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Dutch dismay

Bayern star Robben doubtful with injury

Netherlands and Bayern star Arjen Robben could be out of the World Cup after sustaining a hamstring injury at the end of Holland’s 6-1 warm-up victory over Hungary in Amsterdam on Saturday. The winger did not fly to Johannesburg with the rest of the Dutch party in the evening, and will instead undergo an MRI scan to determine the extent of the injury on Sunday morning.

“It's not looking good, but I’m not giving up hope. As long as there’s the slightest chance of Arjen appearing at the World Cup, I’ll take him with us,” visibly dismayed Netherlands boss Bert van Marwijk declared. “My first thought was that this can't be true. I’ve had this scenario in the back of my mind recently and kept thinking: stay fit, everyone,” the coach continued.

Two goals in fine display

Just five minutes from time, Robben broke clear down the right and attempted a back-heel into a team-mate’s path. The Bayern man, who scored twice in a superb individual display after coming on at half-time, appeared to catch his studs in the turf and fell to the ground clutching his left thigh. German ref Florian Meyer stopped play at once for Robben to receive treatment.

The 26-year-old waved optimistically to the crowd as he hobbled from the field, but was obviously in distress as he was supported down the tunnel. “It's terrible for Arjen, but I hope it turns out to be not too bad,” said Rafael van der Vaart.

Van Bommel on the scoresheet

Real Madrid midfielder van der Vaart made a swift recovery from an apparently similar muscle injury a couple of weeks ago. Van Marwijk hopes the same will apply to Robben. “There’s better treatment now compared to when I was playing. I can replace Robben until 24 hours before our opening match and I’ll use all the time available,” the coach said. The Dutch start their campaign against Denmark on 14 June.

Robben’s injury took the shine off a successful dress rehearsal for the men in orange. Robin van Persie (21), Wesley Sneijder (56), Robben (64, 78), Mark van Bommel (71) and Eljero Elia (74) netted for the home team, after Balázs Dzsudzsák fired a sixth-minute opener for the visitors.

Dutch remain hopeful

“I’d rather have lost this match and have Arjen stay fit,” commented van Marwijk. “The result doesn’t matter now. I hope Arjen makes it, although it didn’t look good,” added skipper Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

Van Marwijk rested Robben for the first half, after the attacker failed to complete the full training programme last week with a groin problem. He covered the full 90 minutes of the Champions League final for Bayern against Inter two weeks earlier.