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Feb 29, 2012

Van Persie in doubt for friendly

Striker Robin van Persie is a doubt for the Netherlands in Wednesday's friendly against England as he continues to struggle with a groin injury, Oranje coach Bert van Marwijk confirmed.

• Johnson out of England squad
• Pearce delays naming captain
• Bouwes: Cruyff wows Wembley
• Match Preview: England v Netherlands

Van Persie sat out the last 10 minutes of Holland's hour-long training session at Wembley after aggravating the problem, which he originally suffered in the Arsenal's 5-2 win over Tottenham on Sunday.

The 28-year-old, who has been in scintillating form this year, appeared in discomfort towards the end of the session and missed an eight-a-side practice match at England's national stadium in north London. Despite the scare, Van Marwijk remains hopeful the striker will feature.

"We will have to wait and see but I don't think it's too serious. I am optimistic he will play," Van Marwijk said.

Arsenal were aware Van Persie had picked up an injury, although they released him for international duty as they thought it was only minor.

Despite Van Marwijk's insistence that the injury does not appear serious, the news will surely prove to be a worrying development for Arsene Wenger, who has heavily relied upon the Dutchman this season.

"Robin is in great form," said Van Marwijk. "It's a little bit different this season with Robin. He is scoring a lot of goals now. He is now a centre-forward.

"Normally he is a player who plays in combination, with others. He did that with Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri but now he plays very deep as a striker. He has the quality to score goals."

Holland cruised through their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, racking up nine wins out of a possible 10 to top their group ahead of Sweden.

England, on the other hand, have endured a troubled run-up to tomorrow's game.

The Three Lions are without a full-time head coach following the resignation of Fabio Capello, they do not have a permanent captain, and their squad has been ravaged by injury.

Interim head coach Stuart Pearce has seen five players - Wayne Rooney, Tom Cleverley, Kyle Walker, Glen Johnson and Darren Bent - pull out of the game.

The three strikers Pearce has available have only seven caps between them, but Van Marwijk has vowed not to under-estimate the home side tomorrow evening.

"I am a big fan of England. They were really unlucky against Germany at the World Cup. They were unlucky not to qualify for the semi-finals," Van Marwijk said. "They have a lot of good, fast, powerful players so we will not under-estimate them tomorrow."

Holland's excellent qualifying campaign for Euro 2012 has been born of a series of impressive fluent attacking displays typical of the 'total football' ethos employed by the legendary Dutch team of the 1970s and 1980s.

The performances have been in complete contrast to the one Holland produced in the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa, when they employed aggressive tactics in an attempt to stop Spain - a move that ended in failure.

Van Marwijk has promised the fans who turn up at Wembley that they will be treated to a splendid display of attacking football.

"The performance is more important than the result for us tomorrow," he said. "We want to play in the Dutch way. We want to win but it's more important that we are ready when the Euros come around."

Van Marwijk could hand debuts to Ola John and Luciano Narsingh, but Mark van Bommel is another doubt with a knee injury.

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