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By ESPN Staff
Jun 7, 2006

Star duo return to training to boost Netherlands

FREIBURG, Germany, June 7 (Reuters) - Rafael van der Vaart and Giovanni van Bronckhorst joined the Dutch team's first training session in the Dreisam Stadium in Freiburg on Wednesday as they seek to prove their fitness for the World Cup.

Playmaker Van der Vaart has missed much of the preparations through an ankle injury but came through the training session. Defender Van Bronckhorst sustained a similar injury during the final warm up match against Australia last Sunday, but was also able to train.

Midfielders Philip Cocu and Wesley Sneijder worked out separately from the squad, though seem set to recover in time from a thigh and ankle injury respectively.

'Van der Vaart joined the group today and did well, while the prospect of Sneijder's situation is looking good,' Van Basten told reporters.

Van Basten put midfielders Nigel de Jong and Stijn Schaars on standby on Tuesday but it is looking less likely that either of them will be added to the 23-man squad that starts the campaign on Sunday against Serbia and Montenegro.

Schaars, who lifted the European Championship trophy last Sunday as captain of the Dutch Under-21 team, did well in his first training session.

'Stijn (Schaars) made a good impression and could be a good replacement if necessary,' said Van Basten, who played the 22-year-old in Cocu's position.

The organisation of the defence is still a problem for Van Basten. Khalid Boulahrouz replaced Andre Ooijer as central defender during the training match.

Van Basten explained that it was too early to draw conclusions after the training session.

'I am not always training with my first choice team,' he added.

'It is important that we have a good training session and I also want to see how my players adjust to different situations.'