MADRID (Reuters) - Spain centre back Raul Albiol has been forced to withdraw from coach Vicente del Bosque's squad for the holders' final two World Cup 2014 qualifiers at home to Belarus and Georgia because of a muscle injury in his right leg.
"Once the results of the tests on the Napoli player Raul Albiol conducted by the medical services of his club had been received and evaluated, the medical department of the Spanish national team recommended he not join up with the squad," the Iberian nation's soccer federation (RFEF) said on Spain's official website (www.sefutbol.com) on Saturday.
Albiol's absence leaves Del Bosque with only two specialist central defenders in Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos and the coach was quoted in local media as saying he would name a replacement later on Saturday.
Real Sociedad's Inigo Martinez or Real Madrid's Nacho Fernandez are among his options.
Spain and France, who are assured of at least a place in the playoffs, both have 14 points at the top of European qualification Group I though the French have played one more match than their southern neighbours.
Spain, the world and European champions, host Belarus in Palma de Mallorca on October 11 and meet Georgia in Albacete four days later, when France play Finland in Paris.