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By ESPN Staff
Feb 6, 2007

Under-strength Dutch will host Russians

AMSTERDAM, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Dutch coach Marco van Basten is likely to give a starting place to defender Wilfred Bouma as he prepares to face Russia missing almost half his regular squad for Wednesday's international friendly in Amsterdam.

Bouma, in the squad for the first time since September 2005, is set to start in the centre of defence with Joris Mathijsen.

Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar and defenders Andre Ooijer and Khalid Boulahrouz are all sidelined through injury, while in attack, Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben are missing for the same reason.

The Dutch strikeforce for the match against Russia, their first meeting since the European championship finals in 1992 when their opponents played as the CIS, will be led by Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt while Hamburg's Rafael van der Vaart will fill the right wing spot.

For Kuyt it will be a tough job to forget Ruud van Nistelrooy, who has said he no longer wishes to be considered for the national side and lacks confidence in Van Basten, and the deadly van Persie, scorer of four of the seven Dutch goals in the Euro 2008 qualifiers.

Russia's Dutch coach Guus Hiddink is also having to contend with a long injury list and has just 18 available players, three of whom are goalkeepers.

Defender Sergei Ignashevich will be out of action for several weeks after suffering a serious head injury while playing for his club, CSKA Moscow, in last week's invitational tournament in Israel.

The CSKA skipper banged heads with an opposing player in a 3-2 win over city rivals Spartak in the $8 million, six-team tournament, sponsored by Chelsea's billionaire owner Roman Abramovich.

Hiddink also has to attend a court hearing at home but said that would not distract from his coaching duties.

'I must be in court on Tuesday but will be with the team after that,' the Dutchman was quoted as saying by Russian media.

Probable line-ups:

Netherlands: Maarten Stekelenburg; Jan Kromkamp, Joris Mathijsen, Wilfred Bouma, Giovanni van Bronckhorst; Denny Landzaat, Clarence Seedorf, Wesley Sneijder; Rafael van der Vaart, Dirk Kuyt, Ryan Babel

Russia: Igor Akinfeyev; Alexei Berezutsky, Vasily Berezutsky, Alexander Anyukov; Yuri Zhirkov, Igor Semshov, Yegor Titov, Vladimir Bystrov, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov; Andrei Arshavin, Roman Pavlyuchenko.