Dutch coach Ronald Koeman picks Verbruggen as goalkeeper for qualifier against Ireland

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Dutch coach Ronald Koeman picks Verbruggen as goalkeeper for qualifier against Ireland
Bart Verbruggen in training with the Netherlands
Bart Verbruggen in training with the Netherlands
Profimedia
Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen (21) will be in goal for the Netherlands when they take on the Republic of Ireland in Amsterdam on Saturday, looking for a win to secure their place at next year’s European Championship in Germany.

Coach Ronald Koeman (60) on Tuesday ended speculation over who would be keep goal for the Dutch, who have used five goalkeepers over the last 12 months, in the match.

Verbruggen, who joined the English club from Anderlecht at the start of the season, is preferred to Feyenoord’s Justin Bijlow (25) and Mark Flekken (30) from Brentford.

“Bart Verbruggen will keep goal this week. I think that’s logical on the basis of the last two matches that we played,” Koeman told a press conference on Tuesday.

Verbruggen won his first caps in the 2-1 home loss to France and 1-0 victory in Greece in Euro 2024 qualifying last month.

The result left the Dutch second in the standings behind already-qualified France. They are tied on 12 points with Greece, who have played one game more.

If the Netherlands fail against the Irish, they can still make sure of second place, and a berth at the finals, in their last Group B game against tiny Gibraltar, who have lost all their group games, in Faro, Portugal next Tuesday.

Having beaten Greece in both of their qualifiers, the Dutch will advance if the two teams are level on points.

“He has developed nicely at his young age,” Koeman said of Verbruggen.

“That is also the case with Bijlow, but unfortunately he was injured, which created a different situation. It is not the case that Bart is 100% certain to be the first choice during the European Championship. You cannot and should not say that. But in principle yes for these two matches."

The Dutch surprisingly picked uncapped Andries Noppert (29) as their first choice at last year’s World Cup finals in Qatar under previous coach Louis van Gaal (72).

Since Koeman took over this year, he has used Jasper Cillessen (34), who is now out of favour, Bijlow, Flekken and Verbruggen.

“It is not ideal but all of them did well,” Koeman added.

When he named his squad for the two matches last Friday, Koeman surprised with the choice of Jorrel Hato (17) among the defenders.

“I was looking for left footed players. There were other candidates but they were right footed. It has worked out well because Nathan Ake (28) has since pulled out with injury,” the coach explained.

Ake’s withdrawal was sanctioned on Sunday and he has since been joined on the sidelines by the Ajax pair Steven Bergwijn (26) and Brian Brobbey (21). Uncapped Toulouse striker Thijs Dallinga (23) has been called up as a replacement.

Follow the Netherlands game against Ireland with Flashscore.

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