• World Cup

Van Persie still not fully fit

ESPN staff
June 4, 2014
© PA Photos

Manchester United striker Robin van Persie is still not back to full fitness after suffering a knee injury in March, according to Louis van Gaal.

Van Persie has made only three appearances and has not completed a full game for his club since he went off hurt during a Champions League win against Olympiakos. He also had thigh problems earlier in the season but has scored for the Netherlands in friendlies against Ecuador and Ghana in recent weeks as he stepped up his recovery.

Van Persie believes his lengthy time on the sidelines might help him at the World Cup but the Netherlands and new United manager Van Gaal claims his captain is not quite ready yet.

"He is not 100 percent, but we have two weeks to go," Van Gaal said. "I think he will be 100%. He is coming out of injury but we built him already up in our federation, our medical department.

"It was under the permission of David Moyes, so we could control him, he has worked very hard. Then he played two matches of 20 or 30 minutes and the last match 70 minutes. We did not expect that as the injury was bad.''

Van Persie's lengthy layoff was said to have been contributed to by a poor relationship with former United manager Moyes. That has been denied but it appears the Scot was happy for his striker to have his rehabilitation taken care of by the Dutch team's medical department, away from the club and with an eye on the World Cup.

He is likely to be given another run-out as the Netherlands take on Wales in Amsterdam on Wednesday in their final friendly before flying to Brazil.

The Dutch then begin their World Cup campaign against holders Spain in a repeat of the 2010 final in Salvador on June 13. They face Australia and Chile in their other Group B games.

The Netherlands have finished runners-up three times at the World Cup and Van Gaal feels that past record perhaps places unrealistic expectations on his current squad.

"The purpose is to win the World Cup and the purpose of the board is the semi finals," he said. "I think it's a big purpose - the purpose is maybe too big an expectation.

"This team can beat all, but we can also lose. That's sport and we accept that but it's difficult for the Dutch people to accept."

The pressure, however, is not something that bothers veteran Van Gaal, who has a proven track record of success from his club career with Ajax, Barcelona, AZ Alkmaar and Bayern Munich.

He said: "You do not know Louis Van Gaal! I give myself more pressure than anyone else. I will always win.''

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