Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk on Monday announced a bumper preliminary squad of 36 players for UEFA EURO 2012 in Poland and the Ukraine. Van Marwijk will have to whittle the squad down to three goalkeepers and 20 outfield players by 29 May.
The 36 players will participate in an initial training camp in Hoenderloo from 14-15 May, according to a statement released by the Dutch Football Federation (KNVB). "We've had intense discussions with the technical staff in order to come up with a squad composition that was as balanced as possible," said van Marwijk.
Barcelona forward Ibrahim Afellay was included despite having only returned to training in March after six months out due to ruptured ligaments in his left knee. Van Marwijk has also summoned nine previously unselected players, including PSV Eindhoven defender Jetro Willems, 18, and 20-year-old Feyenoord defender Stefan de Vrij.
PSV Eindhoven left-back Erik Pieters announced his withdrawal from the squad on his Twitter account later on Wednesday, as he is yet to fully recover from a fractured right foot. His place in the squad was taken by Alexander Buttner of Vitesse Arnhem.
Beaten finalists at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, where they lost 1-0 to Spain, the Netherlands cruised through EURO 2012 qualifying, winning nine of their ten group games and scoring 37 goals in the process - more than any other side.
Preliminary 36-man Netherlands squad:
Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen (Ajax), Tim Krul (Newcastle United/ENG), Erwin Mulder (Feyenoord), Maarten Stekelenburg (Roma/ITA), Michel Vorm (Swansea City/WAL)
Defenders: Vurnon Anita (Ajax), Khalid Boulahrouz (Stuttgart/GER), Wilfred Bouma (PSV Eindhoven), Alexander Buttner (Vitesse Arnhem), John Heitinga (Everton/ENG), Hedwiges Maduro (Valencia/ESP), Joris Mathijsen (Malaga/ESP), Nick Viergever (AZ Alkmaar), Ron Vlaar, Stefan de Vrij (both Feyenoord), Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax), Jetro Willems (PSV Eindhoven)
Midfielders: Ibrahim Afellay (Barcelona/ESP), Mark van Bommel, Urby Emanuelson (both AC Milan/ITA), Nigel de Jong (Manchester City/ENG), Siem de Jong (Ajax), Adam Maher (AZ Alkmaar), Stijn Schaars (Sporting Lisbon/POR), Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan/ITA), Kevin Strootman (PSV Eindhoven), Rafael van der Vaart (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG)
Forwards: Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV Eindhoven), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke/GER), Ola John, Luuk de Jong (both FC Twente), Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool/ENG), Jeremain Lens (PSV Eindhoven), Luciano Narsingh (Heerenveen), Robin van Persie (Arsenal/ENG), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich/GER)