Belfast Telegraph

Fernando Torres still in doubt for Spain's opener but Iniesta on the mend

By Kieran Daley in Potchefstroom

Spain striker Fernando Torres is unlikely to feature in the European champions' opening Group H match against Switzerland in Durban on Wednesday, the national coach Vicente del Bosque has said.

The striker looked to be near full fitness in training at Spain's base in Potchefstroom yesterday as he continued his recovery from the knee surgery that he had in April, but caution seems to be the priority for the coach.

"I don't think he'll play the first match, although he is not ruled out either," Del Bosque told the Spanish TV channel Telecinco at the weekend.

The former Real Madrid coach was more upbeat about Andres Iniesta, who tweaked a thigh muscle in last Tuesday's crushing 6-0 win over Poland in a friendly in Murcia.

The creative midfielder, a key member of the side, spent half of yesterday's training session playing one-touch with his team-mates before continuing his recuperation away from the group as they practised attacking on one half of the pitch. "I think Iniesta could be available for the Switzerland match," Del Bosque told Telecinco.

After the session another of Del Bosque's injury worries, the Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas, confirmed that his recovery from a cracked bone in his leg was proceeding well. "Every day I'm getting better and stronger," said the Gunners captain, who missed the end of the Premier League season.

"I am feeling really confident and I can almost say that I am 100 per cent. The good thing is that I am training with the team, I have not lost anything due to the physical problems and that's the best thing that can happpen."

Asked if he was upset about being behind the Barcelona duo of Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez for a starting place in the centre of midfield, Fabregas was diplomatic .

"There are players of incredible quality in this team," Fabregas said. "I always accept the coach's decisions and I have to keep working with humility, compete with my team-mates and, when I have the chance, give my all for the national team," he added.

"I am calm and happy to be part of the group and I only have words of thanks for everyone because being here with my colleagues you can only learn from them."

The Arsenal captain is adamant that the uncertainty over his future – he is linked with a move to Barcelona – will not distract him from the task in hand in South Africa.

"I am isolated from it all and I am not thinking about anything else apart from the national team," he said.

"I have come to play a World Cup, which is the best thing possible for a player, with the same excitement that I had at the World Cup in Germany when I was 19.

"I am hungry to do something important and the only thing I will do is always give everything, with a lot of desire and make sure the hunger and competitiveness are never lacking."


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