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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 15, 2006

Van Basten insists the door is not shut for Ruud

Holland coach Marco van Basten has insisted the door has not closed on Ruud van Nistelrooy's international career.

Van Nistelrooy has surprisingly been dropped from the squad to face the Republic of Ireland in a friendly at Lansdowne Road tomorrow.

Van Basten has chosen to wield the axe on his squad following their disappointing second-round exit at the World Cup to Portugal.

The Dutch legend has named four new faces in an 18-man squad, with the notable inclusion that of rising star Klaas Jan Huntelaar.

The 23-year-old Ajax striker has stepped in for the 30-year-old van Nistelrooy, now at Real Madrid following his high-profile summer move from Manchester United.

But as van Basten opts for youth, that does not mean the experienced van Nistelrooy has played his last game for Holland.

'We made a change, bringing in Klaas for Ruud,' confirmed van Basten.

'He is a player in whom we have a lot of confidence, but in football you never know what can happen in six months.

'It's not something definite, but at this moment we have chosen Klaas Jan Huntelaar.

'We are also very lucky in Holland in that we have a lot of good centre forwards, so we have to make decisions which are not easy.

'Klaas, Ruud, Dirk Kuyt, Roy Makaay, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink are all good centre forwards, yet we can't select them all.

'So it's hard to make changes, so when you make a decision like we did with van Nistelrooy, who is a very famous player, it attracts a lot of attention.

'Ruud wasn't amused or happy at not being selected, which is normal, but he accepted it and will do his very best to convince the Holland technical staff that we have made a wrong decision.

'That is also a good squad mentality, so we will see what happens in the coming few months.'

Van Nistelrooy earlier today claimed he was 'unpleasantly surprised' at van Basten's choice, adding: 'It's obvious he prefers to continue with young players.

'In this group only Edwin van der Sar is older, but at the moment I can live with it.'

With the way van Basten's group of young 20-somethings were stroking the ball around Lansdowne Road in training tonight it appears it is going to take something special from van Nistelrooy at Real to force his way back.

Even Kuyt is ahead of him in the pecking order, despite only four goals in 22 appearances, yet van Basten insists the Feyenoord forward is ready for a crack at the Premiership.

Liverpool, and more recently Newcastle, have been linked with the 26-year-old, with van Basten claiming: 'I think he's good enough to play in England.

'He is a good player, he has a good mentality, good technique, scores and makes goals, so is very useful for a team.'

Both Kuyt and Huntelaar should figure against Ireland, either from the start or at some stage during the game.

Despite manager Steve Staunton's team selection problems, with eight players withdrawing from the squad due to injury, van Basten is still expecting a tough encounter.

'Ireland have always had good players, good team spirit, and that has always been the case over the years,' added van Basten.

'It was the same when I last played here against them in 1983 [a 3-2 win for Holland in which van Basten scored], and nothing has changed.

'It's always difficult against Ireland. They are strong physically, very prepared and the game they play is not easy for us, but we hope to do a job tomorrow.'