Van Persie seeks to justify special status

Robin van Persie is afforded special status by Netherlands coach Marco van Basten. The Arsenal FC forward arrived at his country's training camp two and a half weeks ago still troubled by a thigh injury, but Van Basten said he was so important he would be taken to UEFA EURO 2008 regardless.

Back in the fold
Up until yesterday Van Persie had trained alone, putting a question mark against his participation versus Italy on Monday. But he was fully involved on Wednesday when the Oranje completed their first training session on Swiss soil in Lausanne. Afterwards he told "The last few weeks have been tough, but everything was under control. Every possible match situation was tested and I came through them all. But in group training it's different as you have to do what the coach says. But it's good to be back. I knew what to expect, maybe I'm a bit more tired, but that's normal.

Hard to watch
"It has been very tough not to play," continued the 24-year-old former Feyenoord prodigy. "I always suffer when I don't play. I see the others playing freely, without any worries. But I have been well looked after, especially by the medical staff who deserve great credit they have worked very hard with me, from nine to five o'clock every day."

Special request
Van Persie's last appearance for club or country came on 28 April against Derby County FC when he scored in a 6-2 Arsenal victory. He last played for the Oranje one month before that, in a 4-3 success over Austria in Vienna. So he is desperate to be involved in the Group C opener against the world champions in Berne; he even asked Van Basten to arrange an extra friendly.

Risky business
"He told me we would not need another friendly as we would have a practice match in training," Van Persie said. "I don't know if it is wise to start against Italy or not. I have done it with Arsenal after just one training session and one time it went OK, the other time it did not. I think it will be hard to play the 90 minutes. I say 'I'm available' then it's up to the coach. I would pick myself for this match nine times out of ten. I feel good. But then I would always pick myself nine times out of ten."