Injury-plagued Dutch striker Robin van Persie will sit out Thursday's UEAF EURO 2008 warm-up match with Denmark as Netherlands coach Marco van Basten does not want to risk him aggravating a thigh injury.
The 24-year-old Arsenal star is considered integral to van Basten's plans for the Dutch to add the 2008 European title to the one he won as a player in 1988.
"Robin wanted to train and play normally (on Tuesday)," said van Basten, who will step down after the tournament whatever the outcome to take over at Ajax.
"He felt up to it but we have to slow him down. There is no point in playing him on Thursday.This season at Arsenal, Robin came back too soon after an injury and he had a relapse," the coach said.
"That is why our doctors believe it is better to allow him to recuperate as long as possible rather than risk him being injured in a friendly," he added. "We are not going to take any risks with Robin because he is a special player who will be very useful when we face Italy (on 9 June in Berne)," added van Basten.
Van Persie, scorer of seven goals in his 23 internationals, suffered from several different injuries during what was both a frustrating campaign for him and the club, as he went down with knee, thigh and ankle problems.
While he will not play any part against the 1992 European champs, who have not qualified this time, van Basten is set to give a role to left winger Arjen Robben and his Real Madrid team-mates Wesley Sneijder and Ruud van Nistelrooy - while Manchester United's Champions League final hero Edwin van der Sar is also likely to play.
"Arjen had played eight to nine matches in a row with Real Madrid," said van Basten. "His injury problems appear to be over. That is very positive."
None of that quartet had played in Saturday's 3-0 friendly victory over Ukraine.
The Dutch are in the so-called Group of Death, aside from world champions Italy they also have to face FIFA World Cup finalists France and dark horses Romania on J13 and 17 June respectively.