MADRID (AP) — Spain has sent home the 17 extra players it called up this week to form an alternative squad after a coronavirus outbreak had threatened to infect the team at the European Championship.
Six players with previous experience with the national team and 11 players from Spain’s under-21 team were called up by coach Luis Enrique after captain Sergio Busquets tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.
The extra players left Saturday, a day after the squad was vaccinated and following three consecutive days of negative tests for the entire group.
The 23 players on the Euro 2020 squad formed an honor guard to applaud those who were leaving.
Earlier this week, Luis Enrique praised the “great attitude” of both the veterans who answered his call while on vacation and the willingness of the under-21 team to help.
The team for the tournament practiced together on Saturday for the first time this week. They had been training in small bubbles to reduce risk of contagion.
Defender Diego Llorente, who tested positive for the virus on Tuesday, returned to the squad after four consecutive negative results.
Llorente said he has stayed in contact with Busquets, who is completing a minimum 10-day isolation and will at least miss Spain's opening match against Sweden in Seville on Monday.
“He has helped me a lot, giving me his support,” Llorente said about the team captain. “I hope that he returns as soon as possible. He is a great person and on the field he gives us so much.”
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