Mathijsen uncertain for tournament

Mathijsen uncertain for tournament

Published Jun. 6, 2012 7:34 p.m. ET

Joris Mathijsen is almost certain to miss the Netherlands' European Championship opener against Denmark and might be ruled out of the tournament altogether, robbing the team of one of its key defenders.

Coach Bert van Marwijk said Wednesday the chances that Mathijsen will be unavailable for Saturday's match ''are 80 percent'' and is considering calling up a late replacement.

Mathijsen injured his left hamstring during the 2-1 loss to Bulgaria on May 26 and has been struggling since. He was training on his own again Wednesday.

`'Things are not going so well with Joris,'' Van Marwijk said. `'We hoped he would be training with the team. But it didn't happen today. He needs more time.''


As the center-back partner for John Heitinga, Mathijsen is an important part of a Dutch defense which is widely considered to be the team's weak link.

UEFA allows teams to replace a player until one day before its first match - if a doctor from the governing body approves the injury. Van Marwijk will wait until the last moment to make a decision.

The coach, however, has already allowed players dropped from the final squad to go on holiday, making a late call-up even tougher.

The most likely replacement for Mathijsen would be Wilfred Bouma, the PSV defender who will turn 34 during the tournament and who is considered by many too slow to compete with the best strikers from Germany and Portugal - the two other teams in the group.

Adding to the problems is that Van Marwijk has been unable to fill the left back position with an experienced player and may be counting on 18-year-old Jetro Willems.

While Mathijsen ran and did exercises on his own, some 25,000 fans cheered his teammates through a good-humored training session at Wisla Stadium in Krakow.