AMSTERDAM -Forward Steven Bergwijn was dropped on Wednesday as Netherlands coach Frank de Boer finalised his 26-man squad for next month’s European Championship, axing eight players from a preliminary squad named earlier this month.
A lack of playing time at Tottenham Hotspur for 23-year-old Bergwijn over the final months of the Premier League looked to have cost him the chance of making the selection as De Boer chose instead the uncapped Cody Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven in his list of strikers.
“As a trainer-coach I don't find it difficult," said De Boer about leaving players out of the tournament. "But on a personal level it is always difficult."
Veteran goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, who played in the 2010 World Cup final but only recently saw league action with Ajax Amsterdam after years as a reserve at Everton, was chosen as one of the three goalkeepers, ahead of Marco Bizot of AZ Alkmaar.
At 38, Stekelenberg will be one of the oldest squad members at the tournament
Anwar El Ghazi, Hans Hateboer, Rick Karsdorp, Jeremiah St Juste, Kenny Tete and Tonny Vilhena were the other players dropped after the Netherlands completed a mini camp on Wednesday.
De Boer said he had called each of those left out before Wednesday's announcement.
"You want to convey the bad news as gently as possible. I called those I left out, yes. They were very short conversations. They may want to shout out loud and hang up, hence the short conversations."
De Boer kept the 19-year-old Ajax Amsterdam defender Jurriem Timber, who made a strong impression in the second half of the Dutch league season but has yet to play for the national team.
Daley Blind, who suffered a serious ankle injury in March, was also included as he works his way back to full fitness.
The Dutch must do without captain Virgil van Dijk, who earlier this month said he would not try to return from injury at Euro 2020 but instead concentrate on being fit for the next Premier League season with Liverpool.
The squad will reassemble on Friday ahead of a week-long training camp in Portugal, where they will also play a friendly against Scotland on June 2. They will play a second warm-up international in Enschede against Georgia on June 6.
Their opening Euro 2020 Group C match is against Ukraine in Amsterdam on June 13.
Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen (Valencia), Tim Krul (Norwich City), Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax Amsterdam)
Defenders: Nathan Ake (Manchester City), Daley Blind (Ajax Amsterdam), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Stefan de Vrij (Inter Milan), Denzel Dumfries (PSV Eindhoven), Jurriem Timber (Ajax Amsterdam), Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace), Joel Veltman (Brighton & Hove Albion), Owen Wijndal (AZ Alkmaar)
Midfielders: Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Marten de Roon (Atalanta), Ryan Gravenberch, Davy Klaassen (both Ajax Amsterdam), Teun Koopmeiners (AZ Alkmaar), Donny van de Beek (Manchester United), Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)
Forwards: Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord), Luuk de Jong (Sevilla), Memphis Depay (Olympique Lyonnais), Cody Gakpo, Donyell Malen (both PSV Eindhoven), Quincy Promes (Spartak Moscow), Wout Weghorst (Wolfsburg).
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Clare Fallon)