Dutch attacking midfielder Robin van Persie was effectively ruled out of their opening Euro 2008 match with world champions Italy by national coach Marco van Basten on Friday.
The 23-year-old Arsenal star has not played a competitive match since the end of April and was racked by several injuries last season, including latterly a thigh problem which saw him reduced to light training for the first two weeks of the Euro training camp.
With two other tough matches to come in the 'Group of Death' against 2006 World Cup finalists France and dark horses Romania, van Basten appears not to be willing to risk the fragile van Persie for the first match.
“Robin is training normally with the squad,” said van Basten, who steps down after the tournament to take over at ailing Dutch giants Ajax.
“His condition is improving from day to day but it is logical that there is still some improvement to come. The Italy match will be too early for him.”
Van Persie had indicated that he was available for selection by van Basten after training on Wednesday.
However, van Basten has a surfeit of attacking midfielders with Arjen Robben and his Real Madrid team-mate Wesley Sneijder as well as Rafael van der Vaart capable of filling the three positions.
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