Ruud van Nistelrooy's international career appears to be over after the veteran striker missed out on Bert van Marwijk's 30-man preliminary FIFA World Cup™ squad today.
Van Nistelrooy, 33, hoped he had done enough to prove his fitness during a loan spell with Hamburg this season after an injury-plagued period at parent club Real Madrid.
But Van Marwijk said today he did not believe Van Nistelrooij will, at this stage of his career, recover to be able to find the sort of level that saw him score 33 goals in 64 international appearances.
"I told him that we have followed him closely and admire his commitment and dedication to get to the World Cup", Van Marwijk was quoted as saying by AD Sportwereld. "I believe that Ruud is fit, but after his lengthy knee injury he does not have time to get back to his old level."
Also missing from the squad is young Vitesse Arnhem goalkeeper Piet Velthuizen with the more experienced Sander Boschker of Eredivisie champions FC Twente preferred.
Netherlands provisional squad: Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax), Sander Boschker (FC Twente), Michel Vorm (FC Utrecht); Vurnon Anita (Ajax), Khalid Boulahrouz (VfB Stuttgart), Edson Braafheid (Celtic), Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord), John Heitinga (Everton), Joris Mathijsen (HSV), Ron Vlaar (Feyenoord), Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax) en André Ooijer (PSV); Otman Bakkal (PSV), Mark van Bommel (Bayern Munich), Wout Brama (FC Twente), Orlando Engelaar (PSV), Nigel de Jong (Manchester City), David Mendes da Silva (AZ), Stijn Schaars (AZ), Wesley Sneijder (Inter), Rafael van der Vaart (Real Madrid), Demy de Zeeuw (Ajax) en Ibrahim Afellay (PSV); Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool), Jeremain Lens (AZ), Eljero Elia (HSV), Ryan Babel (Liverpool), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (AC Milan), Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich).
*Please note that squad lists only become official after they have been submitted to and announced by FIFA.