Dutch boss Louis van Gaal has played down concerns over the fitness of Robin van Persie after the Manchester United striker suffered a thigh injury during the World Cup qualifying win against Hungary.
Van Persie was replaced at half-time of Tuesday night’s 4-1 triumph in Budapest following a clash with Hungary defender Roland Juhasz.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson had been celebrating fellow Scot Andy Murray’s historic US Open victory in New York, however, he’s likely to be nursing a headache of a different variety following a costly week of internationals.
Shinji Kagawa, the Reds’ other big-name recruit of the summer, was forced to pull out of Japan’s win over Iraq. And with Wayne Rooney not expected to return from a gashed leg until the end of the month, Ferguson can ill afford to have van Persie sidelined even for a short period.
But van Gaal would have soothed Fergie’s fears when he insisted he was simply erring on the side of caution with the former Arsenal star.
“We took off Robin for precautionary measures,” the Oranje manager said. “It doesn’t seem to be too serious, but you never know. We didn’t want to take any risks.”
Appointed for a second stint in charge of the Netherlands following their Euro 2012 flop, Van Gaal has marked the start of his reign by blooding a host of new faces. And with two wins from two in Group D he couldn’t be happier with their progress, saying: “As a club coach you can easily take such a risk. As a national coach it is that much harder. It’s a risk. Because if it goes wrong, then my head gets chopped off.
“But six points from two games, six goals for and one against. That’s fine.”
Meanwhile, Phil Jagielka is confident England’s 1-1 draw with Ukraine would prove a good result - provided they now took a stranglehold of Group H.
The stalemate saw England surrender first place to Montenegro, but victory against San Marino next month
and Poland four days later would ensure they end the year with at least a share of top spot.
Jagielka, who started in place of the injured John Terry, said: “As long as we continue building on it, we’ll be fine.”
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