AMSTERDAM, July 31 (Reuters) – Midfielder Wesley Sneijder has been left out of a provisional 26-man Netherlands squad for next month’s friendly against Portugal in Faro, the Dutch FA announced on Wednesday.
The Galatasaray playmaker lost the captaincy to Robin van Persie two months ago during a tour of Indonesia and China with coach Louis van Gaal saying he should focus on his fitness.
At the time Van Gaal told reporters: “If he (Sneijder) can become fit again then he can battle with other players in the squad. And I expect that an in-form Sneijder will play.”
The 29-year-old Sneijder, who has scored 25 goals in 93 internationals, joined Galatasaray from Inter Milan in this year’s January transfer window and helped them win the Turkish league title but has struggled with form and injuries.
One surprise new call-up to the provisional squad posted on the Dutch FA’s official website (www.knvb.nl) is right back Paul Verhaegh of Bundesliga side FC Augsburg.
“In the past – especially (when) Bert van Marwijk was our national coach, my name was mentioned. But that is some time ago,” Verhaegh, a member of the Dutch under-21 team that won the 2007 European championship, told reporters on Wednesday.
“I am 29 now and recently there were a lot of young players who got their chance in the Dutch squad. So that’s an extra reason to be proud now. But I realise it’s only a provisional squad, so a lot can happen,” he added ahead of the Aug. 14 game.
Verhaegh, who will be 30 on Sept. 1, has played 58 games and scored two goals for the German club since joining in 2010 after 138 games during four successful seasons at Vitesse Arnhem. (Writing by Jan-Herman de Bruijn in The Hague; Editing by Ken Ferris)