Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque insists the door is still open for Fernando Torres to make the final cut for Euro 2012 despite dropping the out-of-form Chelsea striker from his latest squad.
Torres, a member of Spain's Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup-winning sides, was today omitted from Del Bosque's 24-man group for next Wednesday's friendly against Venezuela, with strikers Roberto Soldado and Iker Muniain earning call-ups instead.
The news is a blow to Torres with the European Championships fast approaching but the Spain boss says those players not named today - World Cup winners Raul Albiol and Pedro Rodriguez also missed out - can still force their way into his plans for Poland and Ukraine.
Del Bosque said: "Some of the usual inclusions are missing. The three of them are world champions. Albiol isn't playing much, Torres and Pedro's performances have been a bit inconsistent and we have to reward the players who are doing well.
"It is not a definitive list, there are three or four months to go and we are limited to how many we can bring in."
Torres is joint fourth on Spain's all-time record goalscoring list with 27 but has netted just once in the last 18 months for his country.
The 27-year-old has also struggled for goals with Chelsea since his British record £50million move from Liverpool in January 2011.
When asked if he had spoken with Torres, Del Bosque said at a press conference today: "I haven't spoken with anybody. Nobody knows the list beforehand.
"I'm not saying he's not a special and charismatic player, who has been called up many times. He's a lad who we hold in high regard and appreciate a lot.
"Now his performances have been a little inconsistent and we've decided not to call him up, but this doesn't mean he isn't going to come to the European Championships.
"It hurts me to leave him out but I have to be fair to the players who have been pushing hard. It's very difficult to get into the national team, and it's also difficult to fulfil everyone's wishes."
Del Bosque also hopes to see a positive response from the former Atletico Madrid striker, saying: "He shouldn't take it as something negative, he needs to take it as a stimulus. Football is about being continually alive, and the group always has to be alive to compete at the highest level.
"It's not an absolutely definitive decision. It's a base list but it's not definitive for the Euros."
With Barcelona striker David Villa still sidelined with a broken leg, Del Bosque has opted to include Valencia hitman Soldado and uncapped Athletic Bilbao teenager Muniain in his squad for next week's match in Malaga.
Soldado, whose last appearance for Spain came in 2007, said in AS: "I hope I don't have to wait another five years.
"I've progressed a lot as a player since that time and I hope that with this opportunity I can show what I can do. I want to score goals and hope I can get in the final list (for Euro 2012)."
Spain squad for friendly: Victor Valdes (Barcelona), Jose Manuel Reina (Liverpool), Iker Casillas (Real Madrid); Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Carles Puyol (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Andoni Iraola (Athletic Bilbao), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Jordi Alba (Valencia); Javi Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Xavi (Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Malaga), Thiago Alcantara (Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City), Jesus Navas (Sevilla); Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), Iker Muniain (Athletic Bilbao), Juan Mata (Chelsea), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla), Roberto Soldado (Valencia).