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Who will be in Spain’s squad for the 2023 Women’s World Cup?

Even in the absence of Spain’s ‘rebel 15′, competition for places in Jorge Vilda’s squad for this year’s World Cup could not be stiffer.

Even in the absence of Spain’s ‘rebel 15′, competition for places in Jorge Vilda’s squad for this year’s World Cup could not be stiffer.

In the final international window before the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Spain couldn’t have asked for much better. La Roja picked up wins in both the friendlies they played, scoring seven goals on their way to seeing off Norway on 6 April and China five days later. Now, a new phase in Spain’s World Cup preparations begins. There are fewer than 100 days to go until the event in July and August, and the exact make-up of Jorge Vilda’s squad remains very much up in the air.

So much competition for spots in Spain World Cup squad

When it comes to choosing who’s in and who’s out, the head coach doesn’t have an easy task ahead of him. Even in the absence of Spain’s ‘rebel 15′ - the group of players who last year made themselves unavailable for international duty unless Vilda was sacked - competition for seats on the plane could not be more intense. Spain look to have options in every area of the pitch, with the returning Jenni Hermoso and Irene Paredes adding experience to Vilda’s player pool, and plenty of youngsters emerging.

It makes it very hard to predict the final 23 for the tournament.

Of the 23 players who were part of the squad for Spain’s April friendlies, most performed positively. A good few have been assured of their World Cup spot for months. That’s the case of the likes of Esther González, Alba Redondo, Irene Guerrero, Teresa Abelleira, Maite Oroz, Athenea del Castillo, Misa Rodríguez, Olga Carmona, Ivana Andrés, Sheila García and Salma Paralluelo. Given the performance and commitment levels they’ve shown since they came back into the fold, Hermoso and Paredes also look to be certs.

For the likes of Jana Fernández, Berta Pujadas, Fiamma Benítez, Paula Tomás and María Pérez, it’s less of a sure thing. They’re on the list of possibles. Two striking cases, meanwhile, are Eva Navarro and Laia Codina. Navarro was a starter against Norway and also got a decent run-out against China, so the Atlético Madrid forward appears well-placed to make the cut. Codina, on the other hand, didn’t get a single minute. Given how impressive she was against the United States in October, her absence this month came as a surprise.

Plenty of Spain players to return from injury

On top of the players picked for the Norway and China friendlies, there were several others who weren’t involved because of injury. Rocío Gálvez, Marta Cardona, Alexia Putellas, Oihane Fernández and Claudia Zornoza were all out - major players who can be expected to be in Vilda’s list if they’re available.

That would create a selection headache for the coach - particularly when it comes to Zornoza, given Sheila’s performances at right-back. The Athletic Club defender won’t be easy to shift from the team. Competition for places is also extremely stiff in attack, where Spain currently have six players competing for just three spots. And in midfield, there are so many options and nothing is certain. It’s even possible that Hermoso could be used in the engine room, after the positive impression the 32-year-old recently made in a deeper role.

Vilda to name initial group, then final World Cup squad

So Spain’s coaching team has its work cut out between now and June, when the team will get together again and the preliminary World Cup squad will be announced. Just as he did before last summer’s European Championship, Vilda will call up a larger group than he needs, before clipping it back and travelling to Oceania with his chosen players. Spain’s injury list will be key to his final selection - but, whatever happens, La Roja can expect to take a squad brimming with quality. They can dream big down under.