Netherlands coach Danny Blind has admitted Memphis Depay and Robin van Persie had a training-ground fight before their win over Kazakhstan, though the coach denied this was why the Fenerbahce striker was left out of the team for the Euro 2016 qualifier on Tuesday.
Unlike the Super Eagles case where the clash was between the coach and the former captain, this was between a senior player and a youngster.
Since joining the Turkish club from Manchester United in the summer Van Persie has struggled to be considered an automatic choice and the coach, Vitor Pereira, has dropped the 32-year-old to the bench for some matches.
Yet despite not selecting Van Persie for Holland’s 2-1 victory at the Astana Arena Blind claimed this was due to a lack of match fitness rather than the disagreement with Depay.
Blind, father of Manchester United star Daley, said on Dutch TV: “We have discussed what happened but that had nothing to do with my decision. It was a discussion during training about a ball that should have been given over. Things like that happen often. There are sometimes situations in training where players think differently. That’s what happened and then it was over.
“I felt that he was not fit enough to start. I think that’s down to the fact that he has not played without pain for quite a while.”
Despite defeating Kazakhstan Holland will fail to reach a play-off for the Euro 2016 finals in France next summer if Turkey do not lose to Iceland on Tuesday evening, even if Holland defeat the Czech Republic on the same night.
Blind would not confirm whether Van Persie, who came on against Kazakhstan to earn his 100th cap, will start the match. “He is pain free now and feels 100%,” the coach said. “But I want him to be fit enough to play the full 90 minutes. That’s why I did not play him as support striker against Kazakhstan. He is fit enough for the match against Czech Republic but I will have to make choices.”
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