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    Willems, Narsingh make Netherlands' Euro cut

    Netherlands have included 18-year-old defender Jetro Willems and winger Luciano Narsingh in his final 23-man squad.

    Amsterdam: Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk on Saturday included 18-year-old defender Jetro Willems and winger Luciano Narsingh in his final 23-man European Championship squad that has a wealth of attacking options but could be frail in defence.

    The squad includes the topscorer from the English Premier League, Arsenal captain Robin van Persie, and the German Bundesliga in Klaas-Jan Huntelaar of Schalke.

    Van Persie will be hoping to carry his league form into Euro 2012 in Poland after a disappointing showing at the World Cup two years ago. His 30 league goals for Arsenal earned him player of the year awards from both his peers and from football writers in England.

    He will likely face another of Europe's top marksmen — Cristiano Ronaldo — when the Netherlands plays Portugal in Group B that also includes Germany and Denmark.

    Willems is an 18-year-old leftback who broke into PSV Eindhoven's first team this season, while the 21-year-old Narsingh rose to prominence by providing assists to Dutch league topscorer Bas Dost at SC Heerenveen.

    Van Marwijk dropped Ajax players Vurnon Anita and Siem de Jong, PSV winger Jeremain Lens and promising young AZ Alkmaar midfielder Adam Maher from the squad he announced on Saturday.

    He said that all four "can leave the training camp with their heads held high."

    Maher is widely tipped as a player of the future for the Netherlands, but is also only 18 and was competing for a place in midfield packed with established stars such as Wesley Sneijder and Raphael van der Vaart.

    While Ajax forward Siem de Jong did not make the final squad, his younger brother Luuk, a striker with FC Twente, did.

    Lens appears to have been dropped to make room for Narsingh. It was the second time Lens and Anita were dropped from the Dutch squad on the eve of a major tournament. Both narrowly missed the cut for the 2010 World Cup roster.

    As expected, Van Marwijk included Barcelona midfielder Ibrahim Afellay, even though he has only just returned to football after a serious knee injury sidelined him for months.

    Willems and Narsingh played their first senior internationals for the Netherlands on Tuesday in a friendly against Bayern Munich. Narsingh scored one of the Dutch goals in the 3-2 loss and Willems played well at leftback, a position that has been Van Marwijk's main headache as he finalized his squad.

    The Netherlands have struggled to replace left-footed defender Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who retired after the 2010 World Cup final that the Netherlands lost 1-0 to Spain.

    Defensively, the Dutch have been fragile in recent performances — conceding three goals to Germany, Sweden and Bayern Munich.

    Van Marwijk's team lost their friendly against Bulgaria later on Saturday in Amsterdam and have two more friendlies next week before heading to their base in Poland for Euro 2012.


    Goalkeepers: Maarten Stekelenburg (AS Roma), Michel Vorm (Swansea), Tim Krul (Newcastle).

    Defenders: Khalid Boulahrouz (Stuttgart), John Heitinga (Everton), Joris Mathijsen (Malaga), Ron Vlaar (Feyenoord), Wilfred Bouma (PSV Eindhoven), Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax), Jetro Willems (PSV Eindhoven).

    Midfielders: Ibrahim Afellay (Barcelona), Mark van Bommel (AC Milan), Nigel de Jong (Manchester City), Stijn Schaars (Sporting Lisbon), Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan), Kevin Strootman (PSV Eindhoven), Rafael van der Vaart (Tottenham).

    Forwards: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke), Luuk de Jong (FC Twente), Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool), Luciano Narsingh (Heerenveen), Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich).