Spain World cup 2022 Squad: Spain call up uncapped Barcelona teenager Alejandro Balde following Gaya injury

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Alejandro Balde has enjoyed a breakthrough season for Barcelona and could now make his first appearance at a major international tournament.

Barcelona’s 19-year-old full-back Alejandro Balde has been added to Spain’s squad for the World Cup following an injury to Jose Gaya.

Valencia left-back Gaya won 18 caps for Spain after making his international debut in 2018 and looked set to deputize for La Roja vice-captain Jordi Alba in Qatar.

However, Gaya suffered a sprained ankle in training on Wednesday and although initial reports suggested his injury was not serious, Luis Enrique decided not to take any chances ahead of the tournament.

Balde had been preparing to represent Spain’s under-21 team against Japan in Friday’s friendly but could now win his first senior tournament on the grandest stage of all.

Balde made his Barcelona debut in the Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich last September and has taken a prominent role in Xavi’s new side this season.

As Barcelona struggled with a series of defensive injury problems, Balde made 16 appearances for the Blaugrana this campaign, scoring 13 times.

Spain open their Group E campaign against Costa Rica at the Al Thumama Stadium on Wednesday before taking on Germany in a huge clash four days later.

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