Spain players lack commitment

Sergio Ramos
Sergio Ramos

Madrid - Spain's preparations for Saturday's Euro 2016 qualifier against Belarus have been disrupted by injury while a debate has rumbled on in the background over the commitment of some team members.

Midfielder Cesc Fabregas was the latest to pull out on Tuesday, joining Chelsea team mate Diego Costa on the sidelines, and the fact that Fabregas played the whole of Saturday's 2-1 Premier League win at Liverpool and Costa 90 minutes prompted suggestions club had taken priority over country.

Barcelona's Gerard Pique, like former team mate Fabregas a proud Catalan, has also been accused of lacking commitment to Spain, although he has vehemently insisted otherwise.

Centre back Sergio Ramos, a squad heavyweight who has made 122 appearances for La Roja, was grilled about the situation on Spanish radio on Wednesday and said he would like to see players show the same devotion to Spain as to their clubs.

"It can create doubts," Ramos told Radio Marca ahead of the match in Huelva.

"Not only in the squad but among the fans as well debates can start about issues like this," the Real Madrid defender added.

"I would not have allowed it because I would have come out and spoken to clear up the issue a bit so that it didn't gain in significance and so that people understood the problem."

Even with a number of key performers missing, Spain should have far too much quality for the Belarussians, who have a solitary point from their three Group C matches and are joint bottom with Luxembourg.

Spain, rebuilding after their failed title defence at the World Cup in Brazil, slipped to a surprise reverse to Slovakia last month that cost them top spot in the group and are second on six points with Ukraine.

Macedonia have three points in fourth place.

After a poor start to qualifying, Belarus are unlikely to secure a spot at the tournament in France in two years' time but midfielder Anton Putilo is refusing to throw in the towel.

"They are former world champions and current European champions," Putilo said on UEFA.com.

"It is an away match. It is obviously a tough one but you just cannot take the field thinking about defeat," he added.

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