Dutch without captain Robben in Euro qualifiers

The Hague: Star winger Arjen Robben will not be fit in time for the crucial Euro 2016 qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Czech Republic and was left out of the Netherlands squad on Friday by national team coach Danny Blind.

The 31-year-old Robben, captain of the Dutch team, suffered a groin injury on September 3 against Iceland in Amsterdam (1-0 loss). Although he recently returned to the training pitch at his club Bayern Munich for individual exercises his time is too short to help the Dutch team, reports Xinhua.

Due to injuries Jetro Willems (PSV), Stefan de Vrij (Lazio) and Luuk de Jong (PSV) are also absent.

With Anwar El Ghazi head coach Blind named one debutant in the squad for the two forthcoming qualifiers. The 20-year-old Ajax forward with Moroccan roots, who has a double nationality, decided for an international career with the Netherlands instead of Morocco last week. Together with PSV forward De Jong he is the current top scorer of the Dutch Eredivisie with seven goals.

Ranked fourth in Group A the Netherlands will battle for its last qualifying chance on October 10 against Kazakhstan in Astana and on October 13 against Czech Republic in Netherlands. Iceland and Czech Republic are already certain of a berth at the European Championships next year in France, with number three Turkey (12 points) and Netherlands (10 points) aiming for a possible third spot.

If Turkey gets four points from its remaining two matches against Czech Republic on October 10 in Prague and against Iceland in Konya, the Dutch will definitely drop out of the race.

The nine group winners, the nine group runners-up and the best third-placed team qualify directly for the final tournament and the eight remaining third-placed teams will contest in play-offs to determine the last four qualifiers for the finals in France.

The Netherlands squad for Euro 2016 qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Czech Republic:

Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen (Ajax), Tim Krul (Newcastle United), Jeroen Zoet (PSV)

Defenders: Jeffrey Bruma (PSV), Virgil van Dijk (Southampton), Daryl Janmaat (Newcastle United), Terence Kongolo (Feyenoord), Karim Rekik (Olympique Marseille), Jairo Riedewald (Ajax), Kenny Tete (Ajax)

Midfielders: Ibrahim Afellay (Stoke City), Vurnon Anita (Newcastle United), Daley Blind (Manchester United), Davy Klaassen (Ajax), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray), Georginio Wijnaldum (Newcastle United)

Forwards: Memphis Depay (Manchester United), Bas Dost (VfL Wolfsburg), Anwar El Ghazi (Ajax), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04), Jeremain Lens (Sunderland), Robin van Persie (Fenerbahce), Quincy Promes (Spartak Moscow).

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