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Villa absence ‘hard blow,’ say teammates

SCHRUNS, Austria, May 23 – Spain players on Wednesday rued the absence of star striker David Villa from their Euro 2012 campaign but said they were still geared up to become the first country to win three major titles in a row.

“David Villa’s absence is a hard blow, especially when you think of his contribution during the World Cup,” Malaga’s Santiago Cazorla told journalists after a first training session in the western Austrian resort of Schruns.

“If he hadn’t been in the Euro or the World Cup, we probably wouldn’t have been champions,” he said.

Defender Alvaro Dominguez, however, said La Roja cannot afford to dwell on Villa’s absence.

“It’s a difficult loss but we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We have to make sure we can make up for it and get on with it as well as possible,” he said.

“He’s an excellent player who brings a lot to the team… (but) there are very good players at this camp and in this team and hopefully we can compensate for this loss,” added Jesus Navas, part of the successful Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 squad.

Spain’s football federation announced late Tuesday that Villa would not take part in Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, as he had failed to get back to full fitness after breaking a leg in December.

Spain are looking to become the first nation to win three international trophies in a row.

But with key players like Villa and defender Carlos Puyol injured — and stars from Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao getting ready for the King’s Cup final on Friday — there are many new faces at this year’s training camp.

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Atletico Madrid’s Dominguez, however, said blending old hands with young blood could still benefit the team.

“We’re all very eager. The important thing is to win the title and hopefully we can contribute to that,” he added.

Cazorla added: “The philosophy is still the same. We have the same approach and we have very good players to help us with that.”

La Roja are in Schruns until May 29, with two friendlies planned on May 26 in St. Gallen, Switzerland, against Serbia, and May 30 in Bern against South Korea.

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