Trio of Feyenoord and goalkeeper Verbruggen in Koeman’s first preliminary selection Oranje
National coach Ronald Koeman has included Feyenoorders Lutsharel Geertruida, Quilindschy Hartman and Mats Wieffer in his pre-selection for the Dutch team’s upcoming European Championship qualifiers against France (in Paris on March 24) and against Gibraltar (in Rotterdam on March 27).
They were not previously part of the preliminary squad. The same goes for 20-year-old Anderlecht goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen.
He has to compete with Jasper Cillessen and Mark Flekken, both of whom, to their great disappointment, were not taken to the World Cup in Qatar by Koeman’s predecessor Louis van Gaal, Kjell Scherpen and Andries Noppert, Van Gaal’s surprising first choice during the title tournament.
The other two World Cup goalkeepers are missing: Feyenoord’s Justin Bijlow is injured and Ajacied Remko Pasveer, meanwhile, is a reserve at his club.
Another notable name on the 37-man list is that of AS Roma midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum. The 86-time international broke his leg during a training session at his club last August and recently made his return.
Daley Blind is the most experienced international in the group. The defender who transferred from Ajax to Bayern Munich last winter is on the threshold of a milestone: he worked his 99th international at the World Cup during the lost quarterfinal against Argentina.
A logical absentee is Luuk de Jong. The PSV player, who served mainly as a pinch hitter with Oranje, announced just today that he is no longer available for the national team.
“The preliminary list has more names than usual,” Koeman said in an explanation. “But I deliberately chose a larger group because we are currently dealing with a number of question marks in terms of match rhythm and fitness.”
On Friday, March 17, Koeman will present the final selection, which he will explain at a press conference the following Monday.