Football

Published: Thursday September 4, 2014 MYT 6:22:09 PM
Updated: Thursday September 4, 2014 MYT 6:23:16 PM

Robben doubtful for Euro qualifier against Czech Republic

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Arjen Robben’s chances of making the Netherlands line-up for their opening Euro 2016 qualifier against the Czech Republic on Tuesday are slim, new coach Guus Hiddink said.

"It is looking very difficult, we haven’t had any contact with him yet,” Hiddink told reporters as the Dutch readied to take on Italy in a friendly in Bari later on Thursday before next week's clash in Prague.

Robben has an ankle injury which keeps him out of the Italy clash but the Dutch hope it might heal in time for the tricky qualifier.

"He hasn’t done any training and it would be very difficult to get him into the swing of things in just a couple of days before the match against the Czechs,” Hiddink warned.

However, the coach said striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who also withdrew from the squad for the Bari encounter, would not be available to play the Czechs.

"He is sick, miserable and feels really bad. It has been decided he will not come for the game in Prague."

Hiddink, who takes over from Louis van Gaal, is also without injured trio Ron Vlaar, Rafael van der Vaart and Jordy Clasie.

Hiddink said the Dutch would go back to playing a 4-3-3 system in the two matches after new Manchester United boss Van Gaal had employed a 5-3-2 during their run to third at the World Cup in July.

The 5-3-2 had initially resulted in an outcry from purists as it went against the Dutch traditions of attacking football but the strong results deflated that argument.

"I had a discussion with the important players and we’ve decided to go back to 4-3-3. There was no surprise about it,” said Hiddink, who added that 5-3-2 remained a strong option.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Patrick Johnston)

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