August 26, 2016

MADRID (AP) New Spain coach Julen Lopetegui dropped longtime captain Iker Casillas on Friday for the start of 2018 World Cup qualifying.

Casillas has a team-record 167 matches for Spain, although the 35-year-old goalkeeper didn't play a minute of the European Championship because he was David de Gea's backup.

Lopetegui said Casillas could return to the team, however.

''Iker is an icon, both past and present, but in this case we decided that our starting goalkeeper will be De Gea,'' Lopetegui said. ''But in no case does this close the door for Iker. We will be watching his performance level closely.''

Since his debut in 2000, Casillas has manned Spain's net through its unprecedented run of three major titles, when it won the 2010 World Cup in between the 2008 and 2012 European Championships.

Lopetegui was coach of FC Porto when Casillas left Real Madrid after 16 seasons for the Portuguese club in July 2015. Lopetegui was fired midway through the season and was without a job until last month when he replaced Vicente del Bosque, after Spain was eliminated in the round of 16 of Euro 2016.

Lopetegui also left veterans Cesc Fabregas, Pedro Rodriguez, and Juanfran Torres off his first list.

Strikers Diego Costa and Paco Alcacer both return after Del Bosque dropped them for Euro 2016.

Lopetegui also called up youngsters Marco Asensio, Sergi Roberto, and Saul Niguez, as well as goalie Adrian San Miguel.

Andres Iniesta was injured and left out.

Spain plays Belgium in a friendly on Sept. 1. Four days later, Spain hosts Liechtenstein in its first World Cup qualifier.

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Spain:

Goalkeepers: David de Gea (Manchester United), Pepe Reina (Napoles), Adrian San Miguel (West Ham).

Defenders: Marc Bartra (Dortmund), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Sergi Roberto (Barcelona), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich).

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid), Jorge ''Koke'' Resurreccion (Atletico Madrid), Juan Mata (Manchester United), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid).

Forwards: Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid), Lucas Vazquez (Real Madrid), Manuel ''Nolito'' Agudo (Manchester City), Paco Alcacer (Valencia), Diego Costa (Chelsea), Victor ''Vitolo'' Machin (Sevilla).

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