PCR tests carried out on the players and staff at Spain’s Las Rozas HQ all came back negative on Monday night, 24 hours after the captain, Sergio Busquets, was forced to return home and go into quarantine having contracted coronavirus.
The news came as a relief for the Spanish Federation at the end of a long day in which five new players had been called up to train at Las Rozas with more scheduled to join them on Wednesday morning as the national team coach, Luis Enrique, moved to have emergency replacements ready for selection in the event of an outbreak of Covid-19.
The football federation has also negotiated with the health ministry to have the squad vaccinated in the wake of Busquets testing positive for the virus.
As they awaited the results of another round of tests, which fortunately came back negative, the decision was made to call up the Leeds United striker Rodrigo Moreno, West Ham’s Pablo Fornals, Carlos Soler from Valencia and Celta de Vigo’s Brais Méndez. Villarreal’s Raúl Albiol was then announced as another incorporation three hours after that.
The decision had already been made that Spain’s friendly with Lithuania in Butarque on Tuesday night will be played by the under-21 instead, a side hastily gathered together on Sunday, finally announced at 1.30am and coached by the under-21s manager, Luis de la Fuente – although it will count as a full international. Spain do not have any more preparatory games before the Euros begin.
After the match on Tuesday night, the plan is for more players to be called up to join a parallel squad with Rodrigo, Fornals, Soler, Brais and Albiol. Neither the numbers nor the identities have yet been confirmed, although it is understood those players will be drawn from the U21 side. Those players will train in a bubble separate from the rest of the squad.
Luis Enrique will not have to formally request a replacement for Busquets or any other player until 9pm on Saturday, 48 hours before Spain’s first game against Sweden. Busquets will miss the first game but if he tests negative he could be available for their second match against Poland on 19 June. With Sergio Ramos left out of the squad, Busquets’s absence would leave Jordi Alba as the captain.
Spain’s coach was the only one not to name a 26-man squad, choosing to call up just 24. He will not be allowed to add to that now and any replacements must be justified on medical grounds.