Netherlands boss Bert van Marwijk is hopeful that Ibrahim Afellay will recover from a knee injury to play at Euro 2012.
Barcelona’s Afellay tore ligaments in his knee last week and will be in a race against time to be fit for the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine at the end of the current football season.
The winger was one of many big names not included in the Dutch squad for Euro 2012 qualifiers against Moldova and Sweden, with Inter Milan’s Wesley Sneijder and Everton’s John Heitinga ruled out with groin and knee injuries respectively.
“I spoke with Ibrahim (Afellay) several times already as he needs support after sustaining an injury like this just after he recovered from another tough injury,” Van Marwijk said.
“He is very important for my squad.”
But despite the missing stars, Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben returns, joining the likes of Rafael van der Vaart, Robin van Persie and Dirk Kuyt.
The upcoming matches are important for the Netherlands and if they manage to win just one of the two, they will consolidate their place as the second-ranked side in the world.
That would mean they would be a top seed for the Euro 2012 draw, something that could be pivotal in their hopes of bouncing back from their 2010 FIFA World Cup final heartbreak and winning their first major trophy since the 1988 European Championships.
Goalkeepers: Maarten Stekelenburg (AS Roma), Michel Vorm (Swansea City), Tim Krul (Newcastle United)
Defenders: Khalid Boulahrouz (VfB Stuttgart), Edson Braafheid (Hoffenheim), Jeffrey Bruma (SV Hamburg), Hedwiges Maduro (Valencia), Joris Mathijsen (Malaga), Erik Pieters (PSV Eindhoven), Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax Amsterdam).
Midfielders: Mark van Bommel (AC Milan), Nigel de Jong (Manchester City), Stijn Schaars (Sporting), Kevin Strootman (PSV), Rafael van der Vaart (Tottenham Hotspur), Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV).
Forwards: Eljero Elia (Juventus), Klaas Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04), Luuk de Jong (Twente Enschede), Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool), Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Jeremain Lens (PSV), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich).