Ronald Koeman that the confident Netherlands can cope with injury problems

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Ronald Koeman that the confident Netherlands can cope with injury problems
Koeman believes he has "sufficient alternatives" for the back line
Koeman believes he has "sufficient alternatives" for the back line
Reuters
The Netherlands might be struggling with injuries going into their penultimate Euro 2024 qualifier against Ireland on Saturday but coach Ronald Koeman is still optimistic about their chances of securing a berth at next year’s finals in Germany.

The Dutch are without injured defenders Nathan Ake, Sven Botman, Mathijs de Ligt, Jeremie Frimpong, Lutsharel Geertruida, Tyrell Malacia and Micky van de Ven, plus star midfielder Frenkie de Jong and leading striker Memphis Depay.

"It is of course exceptional how many central defenders have been dropped out, but on the other hand we have been richly rewarded with the players we still have. They are top players,” Koeman told a press conference on Friday.

Koeman believes he has "sufficient alternatives" for the back line, even after Frimpong and Geertruida departed on Friday after suffering injuries in training. "If more people don't drop out in defence, we have enough."

A win on Saturday would ensure the runners-up berth in Group B behind France. If not, the Dutch still have a chance to make sure when they meet Gibraltar in Faro, Portugal on Tuesday.

The injuries offer a chance to use the 17-year-old Ajax Amsterdam defender Jorrel Hato, although Koeman said he would not start on Saturday.

The coach hoped to slowly integrate the teenager.

"The plan with Hato was to, after the match against Ireland, return him to the under-21 team to play against Sweden, but now he will stay with us," Koeman said.

"He’s made a very good impression. He is a 17-year-old boy who is very mature in his football and his behaviour. I am more than satisfied.”

Hato made his Ajax debut towards the end of last season and has been part of a poor start to the season for the Dutch giants in this campaign.

"I’ve spoken to him about the situation," Koeman said. "You want young boys to develop with experienced players but he is in a situation at a club where a lot is happening and where they are getting bad results. That is difficult for a young player."

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