Del Bosque optimistic over Villa fitness

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque is optimistic record scorer David Villa will return from a broken leg in time for Euro 2012 and says his struggling strike partner Fernando Torres still has a chance to prove he deserves a place in the squad.

Del Bosque said the latest news on Villa's injury, sustained at December's Club World Cup in Japan, was positive and he would give the Barcelona forward as much leeway as possible to get back to full fitness for the tournament in Ukraine and Poland starting in June.

"The people around him think, and he himself thinks, that he will be there," Del Bosque said in an interview with Reuters at the Spanish football federation's headquarters outside Madrid.

"We will wait until the last minute because we are talking about the best goal-scorer that we currently have in Spain, the most reliable," the former Real Madrid coach added.

"He has in the recent past been one of the architects of Spain's goals, so we will wait."

Villa's form in Spain's last two major tournaments has been outstanding and his goals - he has 51 in 82 national team appearances - helped them to victory at Euro 2008 and a first World Cup triumph in 2010.

Torres, by contrast, has suffered a spectacular loss of form since joining Chelsea from Liverpool just over a year ago and Del Bosque dropped him from the squad for last week's friendly against Venezuela.

Roberto Soldado was recalled in his place and the Valencia striker boosted his chances of a place at Euro 2012 by scoring a superb hat-trick in a 5-0 win after coming on at half-time.

"We still have time for him [Torres] to prove that he should return to the national team," Del Bosque said.

"Fernando has been a fixture and is practically a fixture in our squads, in all the squads except the last one.

"The last squad was in no way a final decision on anyone, least of all on Fernando."

WALRUS MOUSTACHE

Dressed in suit and tie and with his distinctive walrus moustache bristling, Del Bosque was happy to accept Spain's status as favourites to retain their continental crown and become the first nation to win back-to-back European titles with a World Cup in between.

Netherlands and Germany - who finished second and third respectively at the World Cup in South Africa - were also strong candidates for Euro 2012 success, added the avuncular 61-year-old, who was a player with Real Madrid and Spain.

As well as Villa, Spain retain a host of players from Euro 2008 including goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas, defenders Sergio Ramos and Carles Puyol and midfielders Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Xabi Alonso and David Silva.

"We have almost four years now with a stable national team, a national team that has not suffered major changes and our playing system and the things we do instinctively are fairly well set," Del Bosque said.

"I believe we have a team that is based on good relations between the players, which is fundamental for victory.

"Yes we have quality, yes we have the right playing system and yes we have the passion necessary to compete.

"We have to proceed with caution and with an eye