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Torres out for Venezuela friendly

Fernando Torres was reluctantly dropped from the Spain squad for a friendly against Venezuela. The...

Sport

Fernando Torres was reluctantly dropped from the Spain squad for a friendly against Venezuela. The decision was made by coach Vicente del Bosque on Friday, raising fresh doubts about the underperforming Chelsea striker's place in the 2012 European championship.

Spain face the vastly-improved South Americans in Malaga on Wednesday and while Del Bosque stressed there could still be changes to his roster before the June tournament in Ukraine and Poland, Torres will struggle to make the cut unless his form rapidly improves.

Losing his place with the world and European champions is the latest setback in a dramatic turnaround for the 27-year-old, who netted Spain's winner in the Euro 2008 final of against Germany but has seen his scoring touch almost completely desert him since joining Chelsea from Liverpool just over a year ago.

"His performances recently have been a bit irregular," del Bosque told a news conference at the Spanish soccer federation's headquarters outside Madrid.

"It does not mean that he is not a special and charismatic player, who has represented his country many times," the former Real Madrid coach added.

"He is a lad we appreciate a great deal and it pains me to leave him out but I wanted to be fair to those lads who are pushing for a place."

Del Bosque, who is without Spain's injured all-time top scorer David Villa but hopes to have him back for Euro 2012, said he wanted to reward form players and recalled Valencia striker Roberto Soldado for the first time since June 2007.

He also handed Athletic Bilbao's 19-year-old forward Iker Muniain his first call-up to the senior squad and included strikers Fernando Llorente, also of Bilbao, and Alvaro Negredo of Sevilla.

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