Football: Dutch coach Ronald Koeman bemoans double injury blow

Dutch coach Ronald Koeman shakes hands with a player during a Euro 2020 qualifier match against Northern Ireland on Nov 16, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

AMSTERDAM (REUTERS) - Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman is crossing his fingers that the remainder of his squad stay healthy during the run-in to Euro 2020 after forwards Memphis Depay and Donyell Malen both went down to serious knee injuries on Sunday (Dec 15).

Depay, 25, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee playing for Lyon in Ligue 1 and could be sidelined for six months, meaning he is likely to miss the European Championship in June and July.

Depay has been one of the first names on the team sheet since Koeman took over and scored six goals as the Netherlands went through as runners-up to Germany in qualifying Group C.

Malen, who would have been a possible replacement for Depay, is set to be out of action for four months after the 20-year-old suffered a knee injury playing for PSV Eindhoven against Feyenoord, Dutch media reported on Tuesday.

"It was no festive Sunday," Koeman told Dutch broadcaster NOS.

"It is well known that Memphis has had an incredibly high return over the last two years, certainly with the Dutch national team, and is a very important player.

"It is a great blow to him and, of course, us too.

"A cruciate ligament injury means months of rehabilitation. Some return faster than others but you have to rehabilitate, come back, train, play matches.

"That all takes a time and therefore being ready for the European Championship might be very difficult."

Koeman said Sunday's setbacks proved it was hard for a national coach to plan too far ahead.

"Sunday proved that you can't count on anything. Let's hope everyone else stays fit and healthy. And then in May we'll see how it looks for us," he added.

The Netherlands will face Austria, Ukraine and the winner of a play-off at Euro 2020, playing all three Group C games in Amsterdam.

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