Van Nistelrooy targets World Cup place

MADRID - Ruud van Nistelrooy wants to return to international football and is targeting a place in the Netherlands squad for the 2010 World Cup finals, the Real Madrid striker said on Thursday.

Van Nistelrooy announced his retirement from the international scene after Euro 2008 saying he wanted to focus on his club career, but the 33-year-old, who is back in action nine months after having surgery on his right knee, appears to have had a change of heart.

"I want to be important at Real Madrid and I believe I can be. This is my objective," he told sports daily Marca.

"I could have gone to another club with less pressure but I know I have the ability. Also, I want to fight so that the national team call me and to be able to play at the World Cup.

"I want to prove that an injury like this doesn't have to force you out of football. There are many examples, like Ronaldo, who overcame a serious injury and became a world champion in Japan (with Brazil in 2002)."

The surgery on a nagging knee injury has changed Van Nistelrooy's outlook.

"Before the injury I didn't feel well. I wasn't at my best," he added. "The doctor who operated on me told me I would be able to play three more years and when I retire I won't have any more problems."

Van Nistelrooy won 64 caps and scored 33 goals for the Netherlands.