European Qualifiers: Santi Cazorla set for 'unthinkable' Spain return
Also live on Sky Sports on Friday: Republic of Ireland face Denmark and new Real Madrid signing Luka Jovic plays for Serbia vs Ukraine
By James Walker-Roberts
Last Updated: 06/06/19 12:39pm
Santi Cazorla could make an "unthinkable" return for Spain when they face Faroe Islands in the European Qualifiers on Sky Sports on Friday.
The former Arsenal playmaker has been named in the squad for the first time since November 2015 with Spain top of Group F and looking to maintain their perfect record,
Meanwhile, the Republic of Ireland, Denmark, Poland and Serbia are also in action. Here's what's in store in the European Qualifiers on Friday…
Cazorla's long-awaited return
"It was unthinkable, it was a very far away dream that I'm actually fulfilling, that I'm enjoying."
At times over the last few years - as he has suffered a series of injuries and undergone a number of operations - it has appeared unlikely that Cazorla would play top-flight football again, let alone international football. However, after playing 46 times for Villarreal during the 2018/19 season, Cazorla is back in the Spain squad and could play his first game since scoring in a 2-0 win over England in November 2015.
"There have been very difficult moments, emotionally and physically, because I wasn't even recovering from the injury," Cazorla said. "But it was a marathon, not a sprint, and I didn't surrender.
"If your dream is to play football you need to try it, at least not to reproach anything to myself even if I didn't accomplish anything. Luckily I made it, through the help of everyone around me, and now I'm trying to enjoy every second of it."
Real Madrid's Isco has also returned to the squad after missing the first two qualifiers against Norway and Malta.
Isco had a difficult season at Real as he fell out of favour under Santiago Solari, before being brought back into the team by Zinedine Zidane. Spanish newspaper Marca have reported that Real will listen to offers for Isco and he is available to buy for the right price.
Spain arguably have the strongest goalkeeping line-up among the top nations, which means either Chelsea's Kepa Arrizabalaga or Manchester United's David de Gea will miss out on a spot. The two Premier League goalkeepers started a game each in the previous qualifiers and Kepa says there is healthy competition.
"We all want to play," he said. "We train hard and then it is the coach who decides.
"My relationship with De Gea is very good, we have worked well together. In addition to competing, we usually talk on the phone. We have a fluid relationship."
Spain head coach Luis Enrique is on indefinite leave due to personal issues, so assistant Roberto Moreno will take charge of the team.
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Ireland renew Denmark rivalry
With six points from two games, Ireland are top of Group D.
However, after 1-0 victories over Georgia and Gibraltar, a tougher test awaits on Friday as they face Denmark.
The two sides have met four times in the last two years - twice in the Nations League in 2018 and twice in a World Cup play-off in 2017 that Denmark won 5-1 on aggregate.
Both Nations League matches finished goalless, with Denmark midfielder Thomas Delaney branding Ireland's play as "primitive" after their stalemate in Copenhagen.
Has their style changed since Mick McCarthy was appointed in November? That still remains to be seen, but McCarthy says that barb should stick with the players.
"It would with me," he said. "We are all different but if somebody mentions it, it might just have a positive effect.
"If someone insults you, I guess you'd take umbrage at it and want to do something about it, if you could, in any positive way."
With three teams seemingly fighting for two qualifying positions in the group, victory for Ireland would be a big step forward.
First look at Real's new striker
After completing a move to Real Madrid, Luka Jovic now turns his attention to international football this summer.
Jovic has become Real's first major signing of potentially a busy summer after signing a six-year deal.
His first day as a Real player saw him travel to Kiev to prepare for Serbia's Group B game against Ukraine. He will also be involved against Lithuania on Monday and has been included in Serbia's squad for the upcoming European U21 Championship.
Jovic hasn't scored in four appearances for Serbia but head coach Mladen Krstajic has compared him to Barcelona's Luis Suarez.
Speaking earlier this year, Krstajic told T-Online: "He's a classic goal-getter with great control of the ball and a good understanding of the game. I'd probably compare him to Luis Suarez.
"He's courageous and dangerous at any moment because he's always lying in wait for his chance or any inattention from the opponent."
Serbia drew 1-1 with Portugal in their Group B opener.
What else is happening?
It's a busy day of action with 12 matches in total.
In Group A, there's a chance for teams to make up ground on England, who are competing at the Nations League finals. Czech Republic host Bulgaria on Friday while Montenegro play Kosovo.
Ukraine vs Serbia is the standout match from Group B, while Denmark vs Ireland headlines Group C.
There are three matches in Group F - Faroe Islands vs Spain, Norway vs Romania and Sweden vs Malta - and also Group G - Austria vs Slovenia, Macedonia vs Poland and Latvia vs Israel.
European Qualifiers live on Sky Sports
You can watch all the European Qualifiers live on Sky Sports.
Denmark vs Republic of Ireland is on Sky Sports Main Event from 7.30pm while Faroe Islands vs Spain is on Sky Sports Football from 7.40pm and the rest of the games are on the Red Button on Sky Sports Football.
All the ways to watch...
Sky Sports subscribers can stream games via the Sky Sports app or the Sky Go app.
Non-subscribers can watch through NOW TV. A Sky Sports day pass is available for £8.99, a week pass for £14.99 or a month pass for £33.99. NOW TV can be streamed through a computer or apps.
If you can't watch live, then you can also follow the action with our live blogs on www.skysports.com and the Sky Sports app, with in-game clips and highlights throughout the matches.