Robin van Persie's fine form against Bulgaria has persuaded Netherlands coach Marco van Basten not to call up a replacement for the injured Dirk Kuyt.
Liverpool FC forward Kuyt damaged his ankle in the 1-1 UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying draw in Bulgaria on Saturday, and will not be fit for Wednesday's game against Albania in Amsterdam. However, Van Basten was sufficiently impressed by the way Van Persie slipped into Kuyt's role as spearhead of the Oranje attack to keep faith with his original formation, saying: "Robin did well as a central striker. He is a complete player who can fill any position up front." The 23-year-old equalised for the Netherlands on 62 minutes in Sofia after Martin Petrov's early goal for the hosts.
With AFC Ajax striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar having already withdrawn with an ankle problem, Van Basten is down to 19 squad members. As Ruud van Nistelrooy refused a late call-up, the choice of who will lead the line against Albania is between Van Persie of Arsenal FC and Celtic FC's Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. "Normally, we have five or six choices for the central striker position but now we have to think it over," said Van Basten. "I tried to persuade Van Nistelrooy last week but he refused."
'We should have won'
Nonetheless, Van Basten has not lost any faith in his side. "I believe my team have real quality," he said, adding of the Bulgaria game: "In the first half we should have played with more pace but after the break that improved. Despite the tough conditions, we played well and created enough chances. We should have won." The Netherlands are level on seven points with Romania at the top of Group G after three matches.
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