AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Netherlands captain Wesley Sneijder has been ruled out of their World Cup qualifier against France on Monday because of a hamstring injury, coach Danny Blind said.
Sneijder hobbled off at halftime in Friday’s 4-1 Group A win over Belarus in Rotterdam but had hoped to recover in time for the meeting with the European Championship runners-up at the Amsterdam Arena.
Blind had anticipated Sniejder’s absence and on Saturday called up Feyenoord's Tonny Vilhenna as cover.
The coach said he had asked Sneijder to stay with the squad until matchday to help with morale ahead of a key clash in the bid to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“France will be a difficult opponent. Their players are used to being involved in top matches every weekend, they are physically strong, which means we need to take them head-on,” Blind told a news conference in Alkmaar on Sunday. “But I’m thinking about winning. We can absolutely do it. The French also have their weaknesses, they give away far too much room and we can profit from that. We will certainly be playing to win.” Blind kept his lineup and tactics close to his chest but did hint at a strengthening the defence or midfield for Monday’s match.
“You can allow for some periods of slackness by ensuring extra security at the back, or in the midfield. We have several options,” he said.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Toby Davis)