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Oct 5, 2012

Van der Vaart makes Dutch return

Rafael van der Vaart has returned to the Netherlands squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Romania after proving his fitness for Hamburg.

Van der Vaart sat out the victories over Turkey and Hungary after his preseason was disrupted by a move from Tottenham to Hamburg, but after a steady start to the season he returns to the international fold, alongside AC Milan's Nigel de Jong and Schalke's Ibrahim Afellay.

Because captain Wesley Sneijder is ruled out through injury, it is the return of van der Vaart that is most important to manager Louis van Gaal, who said: "We concluded he is incredibly fit and that's good news because I already knew he is a great footballer."

Ajax goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer and Feyenoord forward Ruben Schaken are called up for the first time, while it is hoped Feyenoord defender Joris Mathijsen and Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben will be fit for the latter assignment in Bucharest, despite not being named in the original 20-man travelling party.

"I hope and expect Mathijsen will play,'' Van Gaal said. "Robben is more difficult."

Netherlands squad: Stekelenburg (Roma), Vorm (Swansea), Vermeer (Ajax); Heitinga (Everton), Janmaat (Feyenoord), Martins Indi (Feyenoord), Viergever (AZ Alkmaar), Vlaar (Aston Villa), Van Rhijn (Ajax); Emanuelson (AC Milan), De Jong (AC Milan), Strootman (PSV Eindhoven), Van der Vaart (Hamburg), Afellay (Schalke); Huntelaar (Schalke), Lens (PSV Eindhoven), Narsingh (PSV Eindhoven), Van Persie (Manchester United), Kuyt (Fenerbahce), Schaken (Feyenoord)

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