David Villa is ruled out of Spain's Euro 2012 campaign with a fractured leg
Barcelona striker has been sidelined since December's Club World Cup
The 30-year-old is Spain's all-time leading scorer, with 51 international goals
Fernando Llorente or Fernando Torres could lead Spain's attack in his place
David Villa was top goalscorer at Euro 2008 as Spain secured a first major championship in 44 years, but the world champions’ all-time leading marksman will not be part of next month’s title defense in Poland and Ukraine.
Villa, who has scored 51 international goals, has been out of action since December, when he fractured a bone in his left leg while playing for Barcelona at the FIFA Club World Cup.
The Spanish Football Federation’s website has confirmed that the 30-year-old will not be fit enough to be part of coach Vicente del Bosque’s 23-man squad, which will be named on Sunday.
“Villa spoke with the national team coach after the team arrived (for a training camp) in Schruns, Austria,” it reported.
“After not getting in the final practice and development desired, David Villa spoke with Del Bosque, who relayed that although it was Villa’s wish to be with the team in Poland and Ukraine, that his physical state was ‘not as good’ as would be desirable.”
It is the second setback for Del Bosque, who will also be without injured key defender Carles Puyol for the June 8-July 1 tournament.
Villa , who scored five goals as Spain won the 2010 World Cup, expressed his gratitude to fans for their continued backing.
“Thanks to all of you for your support,” the former Valencia striker wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter. “I will continue working to return to play as soon as possible with Barca and the Spanish national team.”
Villa’s absence was felt by Barca, who missed out on the Spanish league title for the first time in four years and finished second – nine points behind archrivals Real Madrid.
With Villa unavailable, the door is now open for Fernando Torres to stake a claim for a return to the starting lineup.
The Chelsea striker, who scored the only goal as Spain beat Germany 1-0 in the Euro 2008 final, has been called into the squad for Saturday’s friendly against Serbia.
Fernando Llorente, the Athletic Bilbao forward who starred during the Basque club’s run to the Europa League final, is also hoping to lead Spain’s frontline.
Four Four Two magazine’s Tim Stannard explained how the absence of Villa, captain Carles Puyol and the loss of form of several key players could mean Joachim Low’s Germany are now favorites for the tournament.
“Germany moved into the favorites position, although they do have a very tough group to get through,” said Stannard.
“It’s not just that Puyol is out. Gerard Pique is very much out of form, there are doubts about who is going to play at full back. Iniesta and Pedro aren’t in very good form and neither is Fernando Torres.”
Stannard tipped Llorente to fill Villa’s boots, although he will first have to emerge unscathed from Bilbao’s Copa del Rey final against Barcelona on Friday.
“The Copa del Rey final is another huge blitz to Del Bosque at the end of a badly organized campaign so far for Spain,” he said.
Drawn in Group C, Spain will first face 2006 World Cup winners Italy in Gdansk on June 10 before playing Croatia and the Republic of Ireland.