(Reuters) – Villarreal midfielder Santi Cazorla earned a surprise recall on Friday to the Spain national squad for the first time in four years following a nightmare run of injuries.
Cazorla, 34, who made his last international appearance in a Nov. 2015 friendly against England, was included in Luis Enrique’s squad for Euro 2020 qualifiers against Faroe Islands and Sweden next month.
Former Arsenal playmaker Cazorla, who had skin removed from his forearm and grafted on to his leg after undergoing eight operations on a persistent ankle injury, was told by doctors he would be lucky to walk properly again, let alone return to playing professionally.
Injuries forced him to leave Arsenal last year and rejoin Villarreal for a third stint, where he has rediscovered his form and fitness, contributing seven goals and 11 assists in 45 appearances across all competitions.
Cazorla, capped 77 times by Spain, was part of the squad that won Euro 2008 and 2012, but missed their triumphant World Cup 2010 campaign due to injury.
The other surprise inclusions in Enrique’s squad include Real Sociedad duo Diego Llorente and Mikel Oyarzabal, while Iago Aspas and Dani Carvajal have both returned following injury.
Spain play away in the Faroe Islands on June 7 before hosting Sweden in Madrid three days later.
Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Pau Lopez
Defenders: Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Mario Hermoso, Diego Llorente, Inigo Martinez, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, Jose Luis Gaya, Jesus Navas
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets, Rodrigo Hernandez, Dani Parejo, Isco, Fabian Ruiz, Santi Cazorla
Forwards: Mikel Oyarzabal, Rodrigo Moreno, Marco Asensio, Iago Aspas, Alvaro Morata
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)