Ansu Fati to start in Spain’s final warmup: Morata out

Ansu Fati will start in Spain’s final warmup before the World Cup on Thursday, with Álvaro Morata, Hugo Guillamón and Marcos Llorente not playing after missing practice time this week.

Coach Luis Enrique said Wednesday he hopes Fati will be able to play the full 90 minutes of the game against Jordan ahead of the trip to Qatar.

“I ask you not to refer to Ansu as a player who is coming off injuries,” Luis Enrique said. “I see him in better condition than in June, when he couldn’t be with us.”

Fati had not been called up by Luis Enrique in the last international break before the World Cup, when the 20-year-old forward was not playing often with Barcelona.

Ansu has not played for Spain since making his fourth appearance as a teenager in October 2020, shortly after becoming Spain’s youngest scorer.

He is one of the many youngsters selected by Luis Enrique to Spain’s revamped squad, along with 18-year-old Gavi Páez, 19-year-old Pedri González and 22-year-old Hugo Guillamón. Gavi eventually broke Fati’s record by scoring his first goal for Spain at the age of 17 years, 304 days.

Guillamón, Morata and Llorente were not fully fit at the start of the team’s preparations and Luis Enrique said they will not play against Jordan. He said their fitness problems were not serious, though, and would not affect the team ahead of the World Cup opener against Costa Rica on Nov. 23.

“If the World Cup began tomorrow, everyone would be available to play,” he said.

Morata has been Spain’s regular starter up front, and Luis Enrique didn’t say who will replace him against Jordan.

“The team will not change the way it plays whether it has Álvaro or not,” the coach said. “There won’t be any changes.”

Luis Enrique said the game against Jordan could help him decide on the starting lineup against Costa Rica.

“The findings from this match will be important and the players know it,” he said. “If you can win a place in the staring lineup in a training session, imagine in a match.”

Spain’s other matches in Group E of the World Cup will be against Germany and Japan.

La Roja is seeking its first major title since the 2012 European Championship, which came two years after it won its lone World Cup title in South Africa.

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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