Pablo Hernandez waiting in the wings for chance to shine
CASILLAS, Pique, Puyol. Xavi, Xabi, Torres and Fabregas.
The list of footballing superstars who were part of the Spain squad at the 2009 Confederations Cup is so long that there are too many to mention.
One member of the party will be in focus at Villa Park tomorrow, though this time he will be wearing the white jersey of Swansea City rather than the red of his country.
Pablo Hernandez waved to the crowd at the Liberty a couple of weeks ago after completing his remarkable move to Wales.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
This weekend comes a first chance for the four-cap winger to impress.
"He is a player who can play on both sides, he can play between the lines, he is tactically very good, he is very fast and one-v-one he is strong," says the man who made bringing Hernandez to Swansea a top priority, Michael Laudrup.
For all his gifts, Hernandez may have to make do with a place on the bench tomorrow.
Such are the options at Swansea these days, and such is the extraordinary progress the club have made since a £35,000 move for Paul Connor caused a stir in these parts only eight years ago.
Connor, remember, was the first player Swansea had paid a fee for in five years — since they stumped up all of £20,000 to lure Tommy Mutton from Bangor City in 1999.
How times have changed.
To suggest in Swansea's latter days at the Vetch that they would soon be parading a Spanish internationals at their new stadium would have been akin to backing Joey Barton to win the Sports Personality of the Year award.
Yet Hernandez will don the No. 11 jersey in the Midlands tomorrow — and, the chances are, he will then put a sweatshirt over the top.
Scott Sinclair may have departed, but Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge have started the season spectacularly, and leaving either man out for the new recruit would be a harsh call indeed.
The beauty of the situation for Laudrup is that if either one of his widemen does not fire, he can send on a player who has spent the last few seasons at Valencia, the third grandest club in Spain.
Hernandez joined for a club-record fee of £5.55 million at the end of what was a productive transfer window for Swansea.
If there was one disappointment in the market — aside from losing the brilliant Joe Allen — it was that Swansea could not find a fourth winger to compete with Dyer, Routledge and Hernandez.
Laudrup had wanted a quartet, and at one stage on deadline day Huw Jenkins thought a deal for Feyenoord's Jerson Cabral was on the cards.
Ultimately the player decided he did not want to leave Holland — he joined FC Twente instead — and Swansea were left with three options on the flanks.
"We tried for a fourth winger," Laudrup admits. "But he didn't want to come and, as I have said before, we only want players who really want to come and play for this club.
"All the players I have brought in really wanted to be here, and that's important.
"If a player thinks he will be better off in another place, he is better off there.
"And for me it's not a problem having only three wide players.
"We can play differently, with four in midfield and only one wide player.
"There are different possibilities for us, so that's OK."
An injury to one of the wingers would be a heavy blow given their importance in the Swansea system.
And Laudrup will be hoping for some better fortune on the fitness front after a gloomy couple of weeks in the treatment room.
First Swansea lost Neil Taylor, their one senior left-back, for the season, then Kyle Bartley was ruled out for three months.
With Chico Flores suspended following that crazy challenge on Louis Saha, Swansea are short of defensive options for the Villa trip.
Garry Monk is not fully fit — and out of favour anyway — so Alan Tate looks a shoo-in to fill Flores's boots in central defence.
At left-back, young Ben Davies will make a full Premier League debut despite the acquisition this week of Dwight Tiendalli.
No doubt Paul Lambert has focused his preparations on Swansea's defensive troubles as he tries to plot a first league victory as Villa boss.
The Scot has not had an easy start at his new club having left Norwich in the summer, losing his first two top-flight games — to West Ham and Everton — before an encouraging draw at Newcastle last time out.
The Villa squad looks short on Premier League expertise, yet they have done little to change that in the transfer market.
Lambert has gone for untried and untested youngsters like Joe Bennett, Matthew Lowton and Ashley Westwood — who Swansea also wanted to sign — in an attempt to rejuvenate a Villa squad who finished only two points above the relegation zone last season.
"Paul has brought in young and hungry players who will learn what he wants from them," said former Villa boss John Gregory this week.
"There will be a few hiccups between now and Christmas, but I think this group will eventually hold their own in the middle of the table this season."
Whether a hiccup awaits for Villa this weekend will depend largely on how Swansea cope with their enforced defensive reshuffle.
Darren Bent is an obvious threat, while the likes of Gabby Agbonlahor and Stephen Ireland will also have to be watched.
Villa's manager certainly knows how to beat Swansea, having triumphed three times in four meetings when he was in charge at Norwich.
Laudrup has talked a lot about having a plan B, about finding new ways to overcome sides who have worked Swansea out to some extent.
Tomorrow may bring a first chance for Laudrup's Swansea to show what else they can do.