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Netherlands midfielder Rafael van der Vaart has been forced to pull out of the running for a place in his country’s 23-man World Cup squad after suffering a calf injury in training.
Van der Vaart was initially selected in boss Louis van Gaal’s provisional 30-man squad and boasted the most experience of anyone called up with 109 caps to his name.
However, the Hamburg midfielder has now left the training camp due to a knock picked up during a training session. The 31-year-old has struggled with injuries this season as he club were forced into a relegation play-off to hold on to their top-flight status.
The former Tottenham man played a key role for the Netherlands at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups but will not be able to bring that experience to the party in Brazil.
Van der Vaart Tweeted: “Extremely disappointed that i am not there in Brazil, but i wish the team a successful and wonderful World Cup.”
Van Gaal’s side face a tough time trying to progress beyond a group that contains defending world champions Spain who can be backed at 7.00 to claim the World Cup as well as Chile and Australia.
The Dutch boss is set to announce his trimmed-down squad on Saturday before they have friendlies against Ghana and Wales.
The Oranje who are priced at 26.00 to win the World Cup, picked up a 1-1 draw in their first World Cup warm-up match against Ecuador last Saturday, with Robin van Persie the only non-Dutch-based player to start as he continues to work his way back to full match fitness.