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Van der Vaart misses World Cup

Netherlands star Rafael van der Vaart has been ruled out of the World Cup after suffering a calf injury.

Netherlands star Rafael van der Vaart has been ruled out of the World Cup after suffering a calf injury.

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The Hamburg midfielder had been named in Louis van Gaal's 30-man preliminary squad but will not make the final 23 after suffering a setback during training in Portugal on Tuesday.

A statement on the KNVB website read: "Rafael van der Vaart will miss the World Cup in Brazil. The Oranje international has strained a calf muscle in his right leg and coach Louis van Gaal has therefore decided not to include him in his final selection."

Van der Vaart, who has won 109 caps for his country, was a key part of the Netherlands side that finished as runners-up to Spain in the last World Cup but has had to contend with fitness troubles and a loss of form in recent months as Hamburg battled to avoid relegation from the Bundesliga.

Before suffering this latest injury setback, he had told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that he had endured "the worst six months of my entire career" but had been confident of being at his best for this summer's tournament.

"I will train hard, give it my all and try to become 100 percent fit to rediscover the form I was showing before the winter break," he had said.

Van Gaal had also suggested he would be involved despite his recent fitness troubles, saying: "If I feel that a non-fit player will give me more than one who is at peak fitness, I will take the non-fit player, because I still have the opportunity to get him fit."

The Netherlands, who are already without Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman, face Spain, Chile and Australia in Group B this summer.

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