The Netherlands will go into their first game of Euro 2020 against Ukraine on Sunday without Matthijs de Ligt as the Juventus defender recovers from a groin injury, coach Frank de Boer confirmed.
“It is a bit too early so we don’t want to take any risks with him and we also have two other games in the group phase to go,” De Boer told reporters at a news conference on Saturday.
“His injury is not that bad and we are sure he will play a part in the next game.”
De Ligt missed the Netherlands’ final Euro 2020 warm-up match against Georgia last weekend and his absence is a major blow given they are coming into the tournament without their other leading central defender in Virgil van Dijk.
The Liverpool star is still recovering from a serious knee injury.
De Boer is also coming into the tournament without goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, who was left out of the squad after testing positive for Covid-19.
The veteran Maarten Stekelenburg, 38, will take over between the posts, preferred to Tim Krul of Norwich City.
“He is our number one at this moment,” De Boer said of Stekelenburg, who played in the side that lost to Spain in the 2010 World Cup final.
The Netherlands are returning to a major tournament after failing to qualify either for Euro 2016 or the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
They will play all their games in Group C at home in Amsterdam, with Ukraine’s visit on Sunday being followed by matches against Austria next Thursday and then North Macedonia on June 21.