Nicklas Bendtner is doubtful for Denmark's decisive FIFA World Cup™ Group E clash with Japan on Thursday, Danish coach Morten Olsen revealed. The Arsenal forward has only been able to train on alternate days because of a groin problem and Olsen will make a late decision on whether he starts a match Denmark must win to reach the last 16.
"You have followed Nicklas's programme, he is quite alright," Olsen told reporters on the eve of the match at Rustenburg's Royal Bafokeng Stadium. "By necessity he does not train every other day and every time he plays we have to wait to see what the reaction is. There is always a doubt with an injury like that so we have to wait and see."
Asked whether Bendtner had a better than 50-50 chance of being ready to face the Japanese, Olsen replied: "I'm very bad in mathematics, I don't know. He is doubtful."
Losing Bendtner would be a serious blow to Denmark's hopes of getting the win they need, with his forward partner and captain Jon Dahl Tomasson also struggling for full fitness because of a hamstring problem. As expected, Olsen confirmed that experienced midfielder Daniel Jensen had been ruled out of the match. The Werder Bremen star featured as a second-half substitute in the 2-1 win over Cameroon but suffered a recurrence of an Achilles injury.
There is always a doubt with an injury like that so we have to wait and see.
Olsen admitted that Denmark's injury problems could be critical on Thursday, although he insisted that he remains confident his side will maintain the country's proud record of having progressed beyond the first round in their three previous FIFA World Cup appearances.
"We have our problems with injuries but I will be very disappointed if we do not go through," he said, while expressing his respect for opponents who only need a draw to book a spot in the knockout phase, thanks to a superior goal difference as a result of having lost by only one goal to the Netherlands [Denmark lost 2-0].
"I said before the tournament that Japan was one of the teams that could surprise people who know nothing about Asian football," Olsen said. "They fight for each other and the team. You saw the Dutch team, with all the quality that they have, they had many problems against Japan. But my team can perform better than we have done so far and that is what we will need to do."