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Sneijder back as Netherlands look for World Cup qualification

Reuters
Mar 21, 2013 at 12:44pm IST

Rotterdam: Playmaker Wesley Sneijder is relishing being back in the international fold and helping the Netherlands take another step towards World Cup qualification when they host Estonia on Friday.

Sneijder has missed the last four matches through injury and a lack of match fitness but wants to make up for lost time after regaining club form with Galatasaray after being frozen out at Inter Milan over a contract dispute.

The Dutch top Group D with four wins from four, three points ahead of Hungary and Romania who they welcome to Amsterdam on Tuesday.

Sneijder back as Netherlands look for World Cup qualification

Sneijder is relishing being back in the international fold and helping the Netherlands take another step towards World Cup qualification.

"It was logical that I did not play for the national team for months as I did not play a match for four months," Sneijder told reporters.

"So it was not strange I was not present just like it isn't strange that I am present now. They should not write me off, I'm not 39."

The Dutch have been going along nicely without Sneijder, drawing with Germany and Italy in friendlies since they crushed Romania 4-1 in Bucharest in October.

Against Italy last month, coach Louis van Gaal fielded one of the youngest ever Dutch teams - with an average age of 22 - although Adam Maher, impressive in the 1-1 draw with the Italians - has made way for Sneijder's return.

"Against Italy and Germany we showed what we are capable off against the bigger teams in the world and this creates expectations," Van Gaal told reporters.

"Now we have to show it against Estonia and Romania."

Van Gaal has warned Dutch fans that Estonia's poor form - just one win from their four games and one goal scored - did not mean they would be pushovers.

"They are a strong team that chases every ball and always will get a chance to score," he said.

Estonia have a defensive headache with Taavi Rahn ruled out by injury while there are doubts over the fitness of Dmitri Kruglov. Former captain Raio Piiroja and forward Sergei Zenjov have returned from injury to join the squad.

Coach Tarmo Ruutli said the Dutch held few surprises for his team. "The players generally do the same things, and their positions are known. However, the other question is of individual excellence," he said.

Probable teams:

Netherlands: Maarten Stekelenburg; Darryl Janmaat, Stefan de Vrij, Bruno Martins Indi, Daley Blind; Kevin Strootman, Wesley Sneijder, Jordy Clasie; Ruben Schaken, Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben.

Estonia: Sergei Pareiko; Tihhon Sisov, Ragnar Klavan, Raio Piiroja, Sander Puri, Ats Purje, Konstantin Vassiljev, Joel Lindpere, Andres Oper, Tarmo Kink, Henrik Ojamaa.

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