SOCCER-KOEMAN PICKS DE JONG AND DEPAY FOR EURO 2024

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman will gamble on the fitness of key midfielder Frenkie de Jong and forward Memphis Depay after including the duo in his final 26-man selection for the European Championship in Germany on Wednesday.

Both have been struggling with injuries of late but with UEFA having extended squad sizes from 23 to 26 players for the June 14-July 14 finals, it is a risk worth taking for Koeman as he seeks to win a first continental title for the side since 1988, a tournament he played in.

"Frenkie will report for the team on Saturday, but things are going well. The first group match (against Poland in Hamburg on June 16) is feasible (for him to play)," Koeman told reporters.

"We have had a troubled cycle with many injuries. You make choices and sometimes they are difficult."

There is no place for the uncapped left-back Ian Maatsen, who will feature for Borussia Dortmund against Real Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday and had been expected to be part of the squad.

"It took some thinking, what was the best moment? He will play the Champions League final on Saturday. He's disappointed, that's normal," Koeman said.

"The reason is that there are several guys in his position and they are given preference. (Nathan) Ake, (Micky) Van de Ven and (Daley) Blind. It gives me the opportunity to bring an extra attacker."

Quinten Timber and goalkeeper Nick Olij are others who miss out, along with injured Atalanta midfielder Marten de Roon, providing an opportunity for Liverpool’s Ryan Gravenberch to make a return to the team for the first time in over a year.

"Yesterday we made the decision with Timber, also based on what the medical staff outlined," Koeman said. "He won't be fit for another seven to 10 days. That would be too long. I made an exception for the other two boys (De Jong and Depay)."

The Netherlands also have France and Austria in Group D and will face Canada (June 6) and Iceland (June 10) in home warm-up fixtures before they travel to Germany.

"I am positive. We are difficult to beat," the coach said. "We can play multiple systems with this group and have a strong team. We do need to improve our game without the ball.

"When is it (Euro 2024) successful? If you win it."

Netherlands squad:

Goalkeepers: Justin Bijlow (Feyenoord), Mark Fleken (Brentford, England), Bart Verbruggen (Brighton & Hove Albion, England)

Defenders: Nathan Ake (Manchester City, England), Daley Blind (Girona FC, Spain), Stefan de Vrij (Inter Milan, Italy), Lutsharel Geertruida (Feyenoord), Denzel Dumfries (Inter Milan, Italy), Matthijs de Ligt (Bayern Munich, Germany), Jeremy Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany), Micky van de Ven (Tottenham Hotspur, England), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool, England)

Midfielders: Frenkie de Jong (FC Barcelona, Spain), Ryan Gravenberch (Liverpool, England), Teun Koopmeiners (Atalanta, Italy), Tijjani Reijnders (AC Milan, Italy), Jerdy Schouten (PSV Eindhoven), Xavi Simons (RB Leipzig, Germany), Joey Veerman (PSV Eindhoven), Georginio Wijnaldum (Al Ettifaq, Saudi Arabia)

Forwards: Steven Bergwijn (Ajax Amsterdam), Brian Brobbey (Ajax Amsterdam), Memphis Depay (Atletico Madrid, Spain), Cody Gakpo (Liverpool, England), Donyell Malen (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Wout Weghorst (TSG Hoffenheim, Germany).

(Reporting by Nick SaidEditing by Christian Radnedge)

2024-05-29T15:04:12Z dg43tfdfdgfd