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Iago Aspas hoping to make Spain impact after 'dream' call-up

Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas is determined to impress after receiving his first Spain call-up -- something he admits took him by surprise.

Aspas, 29, was not in coach Julen Lopetegui's initial 25-man squad for Saturday's 2018 World Cup qualifier at home to Macedonia and the friendly against England at Wembley on Nov. 15.

However, the former Liverpool man was named on Thursday as a replacement for the injured Diego Costa, with the Chelsea forward ruled out due to a groin problem.

Aspas told Onda Cero: "I wasn't expecting this. I knew that Diego was not well but a few days had gone by so I wasn't thinking about it. I had just played a friendly with Celta. We had three days off and I was planning to spend them in my village with my family. This is a dream come true and I have to thank my club, Celta, for helping me get here."

Aspas has had a flying start to the campaign with the Galician club, scoring six goals and setting up one more in 11 La Liga appearances.

"I deserve to be here but even when I wasn't included in the squad, I worked the same hoping that one day I would be given this chance," he said.

Celta sold Aspas to Liverpool for £7 million in the summer of 2013 but he scored just two goals in 16 appearances before accepting a loan move to Sevilla, who would go on to buy the player's rights.

Aspas, who returned to Celta in the summer of 2015, said: "I'm improving as the years go by and the experience that I got abroad helped me in my career. Now I want to learn from all the great teammates that are here [with Spain] and make life difficult for the coach. I know it's going to be tough because only 11 can play but I want to give myself a chance. I'm determined to do things well."

Lopetegui is keeping his cards close to his chest and has not revealed who will start in attack in place of Costa in Saturday's game in Granada.

Costa played in all four games since Lopetegui replaced Vicente del Bosque at the helm of the national team in July and started in three of those encounters, scoring three goals in the process.

"I haven't made a decision yet," Lopetegui told Cadena Ser. "Costa had done a good job in the last four games for Spain and we had hoped he would feel better but he hasn't recovered. We have to accept it and find the best solution for us."

Costa arrived in Madrid earlier this week with muscle fatigue and a left groin bruise sustained during Chelsea's 5-0 triumph over Everton last weekend and failed to take part in training.

"We knew he had a minor problem but he hoped he would recover," Lopetegui said.

Asked if Chelsea had pressured him to release Costa, Lopetegui said: "Not at all. The club did inform us of the situation after Saturday's game but we are the ones that make the decision."

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.


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