Defensive additions for Dutch mission

LONDON • Two goalkeepers have been added to the Netherlands squad for their final Euro 2016 qualifier against the Czech Republic today, after Tim Krul suffered a season-ending knee injury in their 2-1 win in Kazakhstan.

Feyenoord's Kenneth Vermeer and Fulham's Maarten Stekelenburg, who is on loan at Southampton, are in. So is the defender Gregory van der Wiel, who was suspended.

First choice Jasper Cillessen injured his back during the warm-up in Astana, while his replacement Krul landed awkwardly towards the end of Saturday's Group A match and left the stadium on crutches.

A scan on Sunday confirmed that the Newcastle man had ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, and will be out for at least nine months.

The Netherlands are on the brink of elimination, with their fate out of their hands.

The last major tournament they failed to qualify for was the 2002 World Cup.

To make the play-offs, they need to overcome the second-placed Czechs and hope that Turkey, who are two points ahead on 15, do not beat visiting group leaders Iceland.

However, coach Danny Blind will have to do it without a number of key men when they take on the Czechs at home.

Arjen Robben, Quincy Promes, Kevin Strootman, Stefan de Vrij and Jetro Willems are just some of the players who are unavailable owing to injury.

An inferior head-to-head gives them further cause for concern - with only three wins from 10 previous meetings, which included a 1-2 loss in the reverse fixture at the start of a troubled qualifying campaign .

Czech coach Pavel Vrba rested captain Petr Cech for Saturday's 0-2 home defeat by the Turks and is likely to make more changes.

"We will have the same squad for the final game against the Netherlands, but I think some other players will be given a chance to start," he said.

The Czechs were beaten 2-0 on their last visit to the Netherlands in September 2004.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2015, with the headline 'Defensive additions for Dutch mission'. Print Edition | Subscribe