Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said Jordi Alba must use the disappointment of being left out of the Spain squad on Friday as motivation to earn a recall.
Alba, 29, has won 66 caps for his country since making his debut in 2011 and was the first-choice left-back at the World Cup.
However, he was a surprise omission from the 23-man list named by Luis Enrique this week, the first since the former Barca coach replaced Julen Lopetegui in July.
“Jordi has to manage [the disappointment] in the same way other players have to manage it: by working hard and focusing on his game and on [Barcelona],” Valverde said in a news conference on Saturday.
“He has to wait for an opportunity to get back into the squad without going crazy, just like all players who don’t get called up by their national teams.”
Alba was dropped by Luis Enrique in the coach’s final season at Camp Nou as the relationship between the two reportedly deteriorated.
Luis Enrique would not comment on the reasons for leaving Alba out, only saying it was a “good question” when asked if it was because of personal problems between the two.
Valverde, though, refused to criticise the call when asked if he felt Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso and Valencia’s Jose Luis Gaya deserved to be picked ahead of Alba.
“[Luis Enrique] picks the squad and chooses who he thinks is the best,” Valverde said. “Jordi has not been called up and we will see if he’s recalled in the future. He will have to work hard for it.
“But just as I don’t like other managers questioning my lineups, I won’t question others’ [decisions]. I have more information than anyone on my team and know what I want and he does the same. You have to respect his decision.”
Alba’s first chance to prove Luis Enrique wrong comes on Sunday, when Barca host Huesca, who are unbeaten following their first two games in La Liga.
“They have picked up points at two demanding, tough places to visit — [Athletic Bilbao’s] San Mames, in particular, is not an easy place to go,” Valverde said.
“After two good results, they come to Camp Nou with no fear, so we will have to be careful. We know how these games are from previous experience and we’ve already had difficulties against a newly promoted team this season [last week against Real Valladolid].”
Valverde also expressed his satisfaction that the transfer window has closed in Spain, saying that he is looking forward to focusing solely on football again without the uncertainty surrounding players’ futures.
The window closed with Rafinha staying at the club despite interest from Real Betis and Benfica in the past few days.
“It will not be difficult to manage Rafinha,” Valverde said. “He’s not the only one who wants minutes. They all do.
“I spoke with Rafinha this week [about his options], but those conversations will remain private. In the end, he has stayed here and that’s the important thing for us. He is a player who has qualities which we can take advantage of.”