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FIFA World Cup Qualifying Preview: Estonia v Netherlands

Netherlands star Arjen Robben is delighted to see Wesley Sneijder back in the squad to face Estonia in FIFA World Cup qualifying on Friday.

The Galatasaray playmaker was dropped by coach Louis van Gaal and stripped of the captaincy after failing to convince the national team boss of his fitness.

Sneijder was also overlooked for the Netherlands’ friendly against Portugal last month, but is now back in the squad – replacing the injured Georginio Wijnaldum.

And Bayern Munich attacker Robben is delighted to see the former Inter man back in the international fold, backing Sneijder to make an impact in the clash with Estonia.

Victory in Tallinn would put Netherlands on the path to sealing a place at Brazil 2014, which they could confirm three days later in Andorra.

“I think it’s always good to have him back,” he said.

“I like him very much as a player but also as a person. I think when he is fit and in his normal form, he has great qualities to play in our team and I’m happy that he is back.”

Robben also warned his team-mates of the threat Estonia pose ahead of the game, despite the Dutch having won all six of their qualifying games so far.

Van Gaal has selected a relatively inexperienced defence for the clash – Aston Villa’s Ron Vlaar is the most capped defender or goalkeeper in the squad, with 16 international appearances to his name.

The Dutch were handed a blow as Rafael van der Vaart was forced to pull out, with Adam Maher filling in, and Robben has urged focus from his colleagues.

“I think it’s going to be a difficult game,” he said.

“I think they have a very good team, very well organised. They work hard. They have some good players and we have to be mentally ready for the game.”

Estonian goalkeeper Sergei Pareiko can approach Friday’s game with peace of mind after ending his search to find a new club.

Pareiko was released by Wisla Krakow at the end of last season, but has this week signed a one year deal at Russian Premier League side Volga Nizhny Novgorod.

“The deal is absolutely everything I wanted,” said Pareiko, who has 46 caps for his country.

“The salary is even a bit better than I expected. It would have been nicer, of course, to have a two year contract but at 36 I realise I’m not young.”

Pareiko will be hoping for a better result on Friday than in the reverse fixture in March, when goals from Van der Vaart, Robin van Persie and Ruben Schaken gave the Netherlands a 3-0 win.

Wed 4 September, 2013
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