Netherlands lose five players to 'viral infection' as Gakpo and De Ligt leave Koeman camp

By Sports Desk March 23, 2023

Cody Gakpo and Matthijs de Ligt were among five players sent home from the Netherlands national team camp on Thursday after being hit by a virus.

The drastic news meant coach Ronald Koeman was forced into a rapid rethink of his plans for Friday's Euro 2024 qualifier away to France.

In a statement on its website, the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) said Liverpool forward Gakpo and Bayern Munich defender De Ligt had left the squad, along with Newcastle United defender Sven Botman, PSV midfielder Joey Vermeen and Anderlecht goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen.

Botman, Vermeen and Verbruggen are uncapped and were hoping for their first active involvements with the Oranje, while Gakpo and De Ligt are key figures in the Dutch side.

Koeman called in Vitesse goalkeeper Kjell Scherpen, Inter defender Stefan de Vrij and Bayern Munich midfielder Ryan Gravenberch to fortify his group.

The KNVB described the problem facing the five sick players as "a viral infection", without giving further details.

The Netherlands tackle World Cup runners-up France at the Stade de France in Paris on Friday and then host Gibraltar on Monday in Rotterdam.

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