Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar has indicated that he will consider his future if Paul Lambert’s side are relegated from the Premier League.
The club captain joined from Feyenoord in a £5 million transfer, but fears his World Cup prospects with Netherlands will be damaged if he does not remain in the top flight.
Vlaar does not want a repeat of the disappointment he suffered when he was named in the provisional squad for the 2010 finals in South Africa but failed to make Bert van Marwijk’s final 23-man party.
He is eager to add to his 14 appearances for his country and knows the damage relegation would do to his prospects as Villa prepare for their most important game of the season so far against Sunderland on Monday.
“That's my goal - to go to the World Cup - but I just want to stay up with Villa. That's the most important thing for now and, if we play in the Premier League, that's good enough,” Vlaar said.
Villa can give themselves a five-point cushion over third-bottom Wigan Athletic, who they play on the final day of the season, with victory against the Black Cats at Villa Park, and Vlaar is banking on Christian Benteke making a huge impact in the final games.
Benteke has scored 19 goals in his first season in English football after his £7 million arrival from Genk in the summer, and is another Villa player who could consider his options should the club fail to survive.
“He's unbelievably strong. He's only 22. I don't think there are young players who have done more than him this season,” Vlaar said.
“He has been very important, and he will be important again in these last couple of games for us.”
Victory would also see Villa move level on points with Paolo Di Canio’s Sunderland and Newcastle United, further complicating the relegation picture, and Vlaar believes Paul Lambert’s side will hold their nerve and keep their record of never having been relegated from the Premier League.
“I know last year wasn't easy, and it hasn't been this year,” he said. “Of course I hoped it would be better, but we are in the situation we are in and we have to make sure we get out of it.
“I think we are improving. If you see the results from the last weeks, we lost against City, Arsenal, Liverpool and United and we won against almost all the teams around us, with only a draw against Fulham - and we should have won that game.
"That's good, and they are teams who we have to get points against, so that gives confidence.”