AMSTERDAM - First-choice strikers Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be absent when Netherlands and Sweden meet in a friendly on Wednesday. Huntelaar is out for the rest of the year with an ankle injury while Inter Milan's Ibrahimovic, his predecessor at Ajax Amsterdam, asked Sweden coach Lars Lagerback for a rest. Despite missing Huntelaar and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk believes he has adequate cover up front. "Dirk Kuyt has been performing as a striker (for Liverpool) in recent weeks and Robin van Persie always plays in that area (for Arsenal)," he told reporters. "Rafael van der Vaart played there recently (for Real Madrid) and at Liverpool, Ryan Babel is considered a central striker of the future." Van Marwijk's squad has also been hit by injuries to Arjen Robben, Nigel de Jong and Dirk Marcellis. SWEDEN YOUNGSTERS Apart from Ibrahimovic, coach Lagerback has also given Juventus defender Olof Mellberg a break. "Going down to Amsterdam is exactly what our younger players need," Lagerback told the Swedish paper Smalandsposten in a recent interview. "We always have that in the back of our minds, to get younger players to make the competition bigger and be ready if there's a player who is over the hill." Also missing is Bolton Wanderers striker Johan Elmander. "He's been injured over a longer period and doesn't feel he's on form," said Lagerback, who is likely to pair veteran striker Henrik Larsson with Werder Bremen's Markus Rosenberg or FC Groningen's Marcus Berg. Larsson, 37, will win his 102nd cap. Probable teams: Netherlands: Henk Timmer; John Heitinga, Andre Ooijer, Joris Mathijsen, Giovanni van Bronckhorst; Robin van Persie, Mark van Bommel, Rafael van der Vaart, Demy de Zeeuw, Wesley Sneijder; Dirk Kuyt Sweden: Andreas Isaksson; Mikael Nilsson, Petter Hansson, Daniel Majstorovic, Fredrik Stoor; Daniel Andersson, Sebastian Larsson, Christian Wilhelmsson, Kim Kallstrom; Henrik Larsson, Markus Rosenberg.
18 November 2008
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