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Van Persie injury worries Van Gaal

Robin Van Persie

Amsterdam: Robin van Persie limped off with a groin problem during Holland’s restrained display in their 2-0 win against Wales on Wednesday, causing apprehension for coach Louis van Gaal, with just eight days until their opening match of the World Cup.

The Manchester United striker will see a doctor before Holland fly to Brazil after saying that he came off at the interval as a precaution.

Asked whether Van Persie would be fit to play against Spain on June 13, Van Gaal said: “I hope so. I think it is so. It looks a slight injury but it is not for nothing that you go off. He has to wait until the doctor sees him. We made the right decision to take him off as you don’t have to risk him.”

Van Persie has steadily increased his playing time since recovering from a knee injury and helped to create the opening goal against Wales when his shot struck the knees of Wayne Hennessey and Arjen Robben dispatched the rebound after little over half an hour.

The Bayern Munich midfielder wasted two chances before he sprinted clear to cross for Jeremain Lens to tap home in the final 15 minutes.

Van Persie said: “I wouldn’t call it an injury, I came off as a precaution. It built up during the game so decided it was sensible to come off.”

Holland won comfortably enough with goals from Arjen Robben and Jeremain Lens, but understrength Wales proved worthy opponents and frustrated them for large spells.

Van Persie, who only returned to action for United's final three games after a six-week lay-off with a knee injury, is key to Holland's hopes. The captain came up against a Wales defence in which Hull's James Chester was handed his first cap.

Robben fired over with little more than a minute gone and then Van Persie weaved through some poor tackling to test Wayne Hennessey with a shot. Robben then broke away from Danny Gabbidon before dragging another shot wide.

Yet Wales were not intimidated and did show some movement with Allen almost releasing Jonathan Williams with a good through ball. Simon Church also whipped in a dangerous cross from the left which Bruno Martins Indi cleared over his own bar.

That appeared to dampen the party-like atmosphere but the crowd soon sparked back into life when Robben combined with Wesley Sneijder to create a shooting chance but Gabbidon managed to block.

Robben eventually got his goal after 32 minutes, finishing emphatically on the rebound after Hennessey had saved with his feet from Van Persie.

Van Persie was unlucky again when he showed great technique to shoot first time from a Daryl Janmaat cut-back but it drifted wide. That proved his final notable contribution.

Wales continued to give a good account of themselves and Cillessen needed to be alert to deny substitute Jermaine Easter.

The Fulham youngster George Williams — called into the squad after Bale withdrew last week — was given a chance after 70 minutes and made an immediate impression with a good run into the box. The Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar got back to make a well-timed challenge.

Holland doubled their lead after 76 minutes when Robben broke clear down the right and pulled the ball back for Lens, who could not miss from close range.

Chris Coleman, the Wales manager, said: “I don’t like to lose, and it is a defeat but there is a way in which you lose. I don't think we could have done much more as a group. I thought our lads really put the effort in.

“We were up against a very good international outfit, outstanding players and an extremely good manager with a lot of experience. We knew we were up against it, bearing in mind Holland have been together in camp for just over two weeks and our lads have had four training sessions in just over a month.

“I think our lads really showed a lot of courage and were brave. When you are playing against a team like that you can’t stop every attack. They are good enough to open you up. They have got quality players. But we stayed strong and I am glad we gave them a test. It was a test for them before they go to the World Cup.”

Meanwhile, Bert van Marwijk, the man who led Netherlands to the World Cup final four years ago, has questioned why Van Gaal has changed the team’s formation when the tournament is less than a week away.