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Van Basten prepared to bend rules for Van Persie

ROTTERDAM, May 23 (Friendly) - Holland coach Marco van Basten is set to make an exception to his rule of not including injury-prone players in his Euro 2008 squad for Robin van Persie.

Preparations for next month's finals in Austria and Switzerland move up a gear on Saturday when Oranje take on Ukraine, with further warm-up games lined up against Denmark and Wales.

'It's important to take fit players to the tournament,' said the 43-year-old coach, who has to reduce his 26-man squad to 23 by May 28.

'It's easier to work together with guys like that than with guys who injure easily. Our basic rule is that everyone that joins our squad has to be able to start in the first match against Italy.'

However, Van Basten revealed Van Persie - who is struggling with a thigh problem - is likely to make the cut despite having made only seven Premier League appearances for Arsenal this year.

'Suppose Van Persie remains doubtful... We might say `he can start in the second match'. He is a special player. With a player like him, things are different.'

Van Persie will sit out Saturday's meeting with Ukraine along with defender Mario Melchiot.

Saturday's meeting with Ukraine will be the last chance Van Basten will have to see his players in action before deciding who the unlucky three to miss out will be.

And he intends to field a team as close to his first choice as possible for the Rotterdam encounter.

'We want to practise with the line-up we have in mind for the tournament as often as we can, also against Ukraine,' he said. 'But some players have not joined the squad yet or are not yet completely fit.

'Our greatest concern is to get everyone at the same training level and we hope to achieve that in the coming week.'

Van Basten is not too worried about the policy of picking two players for every outfield position in his squad, and hinted he may sacrifice a defender to bring in an extra midfielder or attacker.

'It doesn't really matter if you bring seven or eight defenders along,' he said.

'If that enables you to bring an extra midfielder or striker, I don't see the problem. The point is to keep the balance and bring as many good players as possible.'

Holland, the 1988 European champions, have been drawn alongside Italy, France and Romania in Euro 2008 Group C.


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