The struggling Chelsea striker Fernando Torres suffered another blow yesterday when he was dropped by Spain for the first time in more than five years.
Torres was missing from the squad announced by the Spain coach Vicente del Bosque for the international friendly against Venezuela next week.
Spain will play once more after Wednesday's game before Del Bosque picks the squad that will defend their title at the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine in June. "Torres is not in good form and we believed in this case it was better if he didn't come," Del Bosque said. "But this doesn't mean anything. This is not a definitive list for Euro."
Torres has been a regular in Spain's team since 2004, winning Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup. But he has only three league goals for Chelsea since his £50 million (Dh292.5m) move from Liverpool in January 2011. He has not scored for the London club in his past 21 games.
Torres missed training today due to illness but is expected to be fit for today's home game against Bolton Wanderers.
Meanwhile, the embattled Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas is confident that Gary Cahill and David Luiz can form a solid defensive partnership during the absence of the captain John Terry.
Villas-Boas has come under intense scrutiny over the last few weeks after his team dropped to fifth in the Premier League and edged close to a Champions League exit in a 3-1 defeat against Napoli on Tuesday in the first leg of their last-16 tie.
To make matters worse for the Portuguese, he will be without Terry for up to six weeks after he aggravated a knee injury, meaning Cahill, the new signing, and the erratic Luiz will have to fill in.
"At the moment we have a new partnership that we are trying to fine tune to be more stable at the back, like we were in January," Villas-Boas said. "Both of them are very extroverted; Gary speaks a lot, organises a lot. It is not about communication. It just takes time, it's a new partnership and you have to get used to the person next to you."
Cahill will line up against his old club Bolton today after his January switch to Chelsea. "There have been changes made so it's not something that will click right in to place straight away," Cahill told Chelsea TV.
The Bolton manager, Owen Coyle, had high praise for Cahill.
"It is terrific to have that sort of player in your armoury," he said. "We wish we still had him, but we don't.
* Press Association