Missing link Robben ready to return

JOHANNESBURG - Netherlands winger Arjen Robben is ready to feature against Cameroon on Thursday although it could still be a slight risk to play, he said on Monday.

Robben suffered a hamstring injury on June 5 in their final warm-up match against Hungary and joined the squad a week later in South Africa after five days of treatment back home.

"Playing against Cameroon is possible," Robben told reporters. "Risk is a big word as we already have taken a risk by choosing an aggressive treatment, where we could have written off the World Cup and said just go on holiday."

The Dutch have already reached the second round ahead of their last Group E match with already-eliminated Cameroon.

The 26-year-old had had the best season of his career with Bayern Munich, who won a domestic double and lost the Champions League final, when he joined the Dutch for the warm-up.

If Robben plays against Cameroon at Green Point stadium in Cape Town on Thursday it will be 19 days since he sustained the damage to his left hamstring.

The questions about a 'missing link' in the successful, though uninspiring, Dutch team who have claimed clinical wins over Denmark and Japan, have made Robben a hot media topic but the nature of the injury has left him on the sidelines.


"You have to be 100 percent to play," he said. "So far we have been considering the situation day-by-day as it happened only two weeks ago and normally it would take four to six weeks to recover from such an injury," he added.

"Yesterday I had a tough training session, with some good five-a-side matches, and I came through well. I don't think there's a big risk that anything will happen to the hamstring."

If Robben features at these finals it will be his fourth straight appearance at a major tournament, though he has not played in all the matches mostly due to injuries.

At Euro 2004 in Portugal he missed the opening match against Germany, while two years later at the World Cup he scored the only goal in the opener against Serbia & Montenegro before being rested in the group's dead rubber against Argentina.

At Euro 2008 in Switzerland Robben missed the first match with Italy, came in and scored in the second versus France and started in a second-string side against Romania before he pulled out injured again for the quarter-final against Russia.

"It has been hard so far," said Robben. "I noticed during the first two matches that it is painful if you can't play and just have to stay on the sidelines."

"The recuperation was no fun at all and sometimes I felt like a martyr but I knew why I did it," he added.

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