Friday, April 07, 2006

Raul to make World Cup squad, says coach

Spain coach Luis Aragones says captain Raul Gonzalez will make his World Cup squad even though the striker has been recently dropped by Real Madrid.

Raul has struggled to find form since returning from serious left knee damage — his worst injury in an 11-year career — sustained against FC Barcelona in November.

He was omitted from Madrid's team, which drew 1-1 with Barcelona last Saturday. It was the first time he had been dropped in 30 games against the Catalan powerhouse.

``I know he will play again, that he'll be in Madrid's first team in what remains of the league and I'm sure he will go to the World Cup. He'll earn it,'' Aragones was quoted as saying by sports daily As on Tuesday.

Aragones said it was ``possible'' Raul wouldn't be picked if Spain's opening game in the tournament was to be played now.

Lavish in praise

But the coach praised Raul, who is Spain's all-time leading scorer with 42 goals in 92 internationals, for his display and headed goal in the 1-1 draw with Serbia-Montenegro in a World Cup qualifier last September.

``He almost won single-handed the match with Serbia not so long ago. He is a fundamental player for us,'' Aragones said.

Spain's opening game in the World Cup is against Ukraine on June 14. Tunisia and Saudi Arabia are also in Group H. — AP

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