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Dutch striker Depay a doubt for Belfast clash

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Dutch striker Depay a doubt for Belfast clash
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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Netherlands forward Memphis Depay is an injury doubt for their key Euro 2020 Group C qualifier against Northern Ireland in Belfast on Saturday while Georginio Wijnaldum is battling the flu, coach Ronald Koeman said on Tuesday.

“He (Depay) had the same thigh injury which forced him to miss our last game against Belarus, but this time on the other leg,” Koeman told a news conference.

“It’s too early to say whether he will be able to play on Saturday, although Memphis himself is quite positive about it.”

The Dutch coach said he still had extensive options upfront as his side seek a victory to keep them on course to finish top of the group, ahead of arch rivals Germany.

“If Memphis cannot play against Northern Ireland, I’ve got four other options who can fill his position.”

He could choose from Ryan Babel, Wout Weghorst, Luuk de Jong and the uncapped teenager Myron Boadu, who has been called-up for the first time.

Koeman said he had been impressed with how easily the 18-year-old had slotted into the squad.

Midfielder Wijnaldum skipped training on Tuesday because he was feeling ill, added the coach.

Koeman said he was looking for a victory over Northern Ireland as well as in next Tuesday’s last group game at home to Estonia in Amsterdam,

“I want six points to ensure we finish top of the group because it could help with our seedings for the finals,” he said.

“We haven’t played very well in our last two internationals, both in terms of possession and also our organisation.”

The Dutch came from behind to beat Northern Ireland 3-1 at home last month, before winning 2-1 away to Belarus.

They have 15 points along with Germany but a better head-to-head record. Northern Ireland are three points adrift.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Toby Davis)

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