Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Dutch camp hoping for Van Persie all-clear

Holland coach Marco van Basten hopes to have Arsenal star Robin van Persie back in full training on Wednesday ahead of their opening Euro 2008 group match.

The Dutch, who comfortably beat Wales 2-0 yesterday, head to their Swiss camp this week and Van Persie is expected to take an active role after a thigh injury.

The 24-year-old missed all three of Holland's warm-up matches last week, the 3-0 win over Ukraine, a 1-1 draw with Denmark and the 2-0 success over a plucky, but outclassed, Wales.

Oranje boss Van Basten has criticised Arsenal for bringing the midfielder back too soon during last season, leading to another setback.

Now he will have to evaluate Van Persie's fitness ahead of next Monday's opening clash with Italy in Berne but Van Basten declared himself satisfied with the Dutch build-up.

'We have done well in three warm-up games, I am satisfied with our progress,' he said.

'The preparation has been good, we could have scored more goals against Wales but overall I am very pleased with the way our preparation is going for the finals.'

Van Basten was delighted with the display of former Chelsea winger Arjen Robben, who scored Holland's first goal.

He said: 'When you mention Robben you have speed, joy and exuberance. He scored a fine goal and was always a danger.

'All the pains and knocks he has suffered seem to have gone and he will be important for us in the finals.'

Wales boss John Toshack conceded that his young stars had gained priceless experience as the Dutch gave all their big names a run out - apart from Van Persie.

Wesley Sneijder broke the deadlock in the first half and Robben added a second after the break to end any chance Wales had of producing a surprise at Feyenoord's De Kuip stadium.

'Holland are a very, very good side, and they showed it. We can have no complaints about the result,' Toshack said. 'But although the Dutch were in command for long spells, our lads kept going right to the end.

'They found it a big step up. Playing for the likes of Peterborough, Barnsley and Stockport is a little different than facing players of this quality.

'Their players were at peak fitness going into the final, but a lot of former Wales sides with far more top-level players have found it difficult to get any sort of result in Holland.

'We did very well to keep it goalless for the first half-hour, but the goal we conceded was shocking.

'There was a lack of concentration and you cannot allow Robben to come like that from the left and have a run at goal right through the centre of our defence.

'From then on we found it hard. They got a good second, but to our credit we created two very good chances in the last few minutes and should have scored.

'It would have been totally unjust for us to have got anything, let alone a draw, but I was pleased with the way the boys stuck at it.

Toshack also hailed 21-year-old goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey for an outstanding performance.

He added: 'He made a string of fine saves, he kept us in the game during that first half. He has improved considerably over the year.'

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