March 27, 2018 / 11:32 PM / 25 days ago

Soccer: Spain hat-trick hero Isco critical of Real playing time

MADRID (Reuters) - After scoring a hat-trick for Spain in their 6-1 demolition of Argentina on Tuesday, Isco hit out over his lack of playing time at Real Madrid and took a thinly veiled swipe at his club coach Zinedine Zidane.

Soccer Football - International Friendly - Spain vs Argentina - Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain - March 27, 2018 Spain's Isco celebrates scoring their sixth goal and completing his hat-trick REUTERS/Juan Medina

Asked about playing under Spain manager Julen Lopetegui, Isco said: “He shows his confidence in me with the number of minutes and games he gives me.

“At Real Madrid I don’t have the kind of confidence that a footballer needs; maybe the problem is me and it’s just the way it is with the amount of good footballers there are there. Of course, I want to show Zidane I can be counted on.”

Isco, who was a key figure for Madrid at the start of the season, has been struggling for a regular run in the side since the winter break, partly due to Gareth Bale’s return to fitness.

The former Malaga midfielder has started 18 times in La Liga from 29 games, completing the 90 minutes on only four occasions.

Soccer Football - International Friendly - Spain vs Argentina - Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain - March 27, 2018 Spain's Isco scores their sixth goal and completes his hat-trick REUTERS/Juan Medina

“When a player isn’t a key part of his team or isn’t getting regular games, it’s matches like these with the national side that give you life,” Isco said.

“The boss here (Lopetegui) believes in me, I’m happy to work hard, improve to try and become a starter for club and country. I want to show I’m a good player.”

The 25-year-old was this weekend linked with a move to Manchester City in the British press suggestions in the Madrid-based media over recent weeks that Real are ready to cash in on the midfielder, potentially after the World Cup.

Soccer Football - International Friendly - Spain vs Argentina - Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain - March 27, 2018 Spain's Isco celebrates scoring their third goal REUTERS/Juan Medina

For now, Isco is looking forward to the finals and believes Spain are hitting their stride just at the right time as shown in their thrashing of twice world champions Argentina.

“It’s a really great result and despite the score it wasn’t easy. They made life difficult for us and were very aggressive,” he said. “We’re developing a really good national side with an exciting future. We need to remember this is all preparation for the World Cup.”

Editing by Ken Ferris

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