(Reuters) – Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk will allow Arjen Robben to decide when he is fit to play at the World Cup and has not ruled out the winger’s return in their final Group E match against Cameroon on Thursday.
“I am going to leave him to make the decision. He knows his own body best and he will let me know when he is ready,” Van Marwijk told a news conference on Sunday.
“It can be in the next game or it can be in the knockout phase. He must take the decision.”
Robben has missed their opening two games as he recovers from a hamstring injury sustained in a warm-up game against Hungary on June 5 in which he scored twice in a 6-1 win.
But he has taken part in two full training sessions over the last three days and Van Marwijk said there was a chance he might feature for the Dutch, who have already qualified for the second round, against already-eliminated Cameroon in Cape Town.
Van Marwijk was asked whether he would prefer to give Robben a chance to get some match practice against Cameroon or play him only when he is 100 percent fit.
“I’d prefer that he is used only when he is fit,” he said.
Van Marwijk also said he would also persist with Robin van Persie despite the strike being critical of his own performances at the World Cup so far.
“He played well in the warm-up games against Ghana and Hungary but he is not satisfied with himself after two matches here,” Van Marwijk said.
“But he will improve. He is the kind of player who can change the way the whole team play and I think it’s important he continues to play to get his form back after all his injuries this season.”
The Dutch on Saturday became the first side to qualify for the knockout phase having beaten Japan 1-0 in Durban.
They won their first game against Denmark 2-0 and will be assured of top spot with at least a point against Cameroon.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)