THE HAGUE, May 4 – Dutch coach Bert Van Marwijk insisted Tuesday that veteran striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy could still make the World Cup finals despite being omitted from an initial training squad.
"As for Ruud, I’m giving myself until May 11 to decide," Van Marwijk told the De Telegraaf daily newspaper.
"I’m leaving him until that date to convince me that he is sufficiently in shape to take part in the World Cup."
Van Marwijk on Monday named a 26-strong squad for a first training camp at Hoenderlo from May 10-14 ahead of the June 11-July 11 World Cup in South Africa. A second camp with those players still involved with their clubs will be held in Austria between May 19-31.
"My assistants and I have seen a lot of Ruud playing recently. We don’t think it would be useful to call him up at the first step but that does not mean that he’s out of the picture," the coach said.
The 33-year-old Van Nistelrooy, who joined Hamburg midway through the season from Real Madrid, had recently indicated that he would like to end his self-imposed exile from the national squad.
The former Manchester United striker has scored 33 goals in his 64 international appearances for the Netherlands.
The Dutch – who have yet to win the World Cup despite reaching two finals in 1974 and 1978 – have been drawn with Denmark, Japan and Cameroon for the World Cup.
Van Marwijk will name a 30-man squad on May 11 which will be trimmed to 23 on June 1. There are also friendlies slated against Mexico (May 26), Ghana (June 1) and Hungary (June 5).