AMSTERDAM, Nov 11 (Reuters) – The Netherlands included injured Barcelona striker Memphis Depay and unselected teenager Xavi Simons in their 26-man World Cup squad but left out veteran goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.
Depay hasn’t played since limping off in the Nations League game against Poland on September 22 and has played less than 150 minutes for Barcelona this season.
“He is fit to play from a medical point of view, but we will have to strengthen Depay,” coach Louis van Gaal told a press conference.
“He won’t be able to start in our first game against Senegal (November 21), but he could be a substitute,” he said, adding that Royal Antwerp’s Vincent Janssen would be Depay’s likely replacement.
Injury to Depay, who has been involved in 18 of the Netherlands’ 33 goals in the qualifying campaign, is a serious risk to the team’s chances, Van Gaal says, but does not change his focus ultimate.
“We have one goal, to become world champions. With our team spirit, we definitely have a good chance,” said the 71-year-old former Ajax Amsterdam, Bayern Munich and Manchester United manager.
Simons, 19, has impressed since moving from Paris St Germain to PSV Eindhoven at the end of the season, scoring eight goals in 13 league appearances.
Van Gaal came as a surprise by dropping 33-year-old goalkeeper Cillessen, who joined his former club NEC Nijmegen from Valencia at the end of the season in hopes of reviving his international career.
The Dutch will play their first World Cup game since winning bronze in Brazil in 2014 against Senegal and will also face Ecuador and hosts Qatar in Group A.
Goalkeepers: Justin Bijlow (Feyenoord), Andries Noppert (Heerenveen), Remko Pasveer (Ajax Amsterdam)
Defenders: Nathan Ake (Manchester City), Daley Blind (Ajax), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Denzel Dumfries (Inter Milan), Jeremie Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen), Matthijs de Ligt (Bayern Munich), Tyrell Malacia (Manchester United) , Jurrien Timber (Ajax), Stefan de Vrij (Inter Milan)
Midfielders: Steven Berghuis (Ajax), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Davy Klaassen (Ajax), Teun Koopmeiners, Marten de Roon (both Atalanta), Xavi Simons (PSV Eindhoven), Kenneth Taylor (Ajax)
Forwards: Steven Bergwijn (Ajax), Memphis Depay (Barcelona), Cody Gakpo (PSV Eindhoven), Vincent Janssen (Royal Antwerp), Luuk de Jong (PSV), Noah Lang (Club Bruges), Wout Weghorst (Besiktas)
Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Toby Davis and Ken Ferris
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