RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Five regular Dutch starters skipped full training for the Netherlands on Thursday as the team prepares for its Round-of-16 game against Mexico.
Defenders Stefan de Vrij and Daley Blind as well as midfielder Nigel de Jong and forward Arjen Robben ran up and down the sidelines at Rio club Flamengo's training complex while other members of the team played a practice match.
It is not the first time Robben, De Jong and Blind have trained more lightly than their teammates and they have all so far been fit to play in all three of the Dutch victories — over Spain, Australia and Chile — that ensured the team finished top of Group B.
Defender Bruno Martins Indi, who is recovering from a concussion sustained in the win over Australia, spent the session firing shots at goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen and did not train with the squad.
Substitute midfielder Leroy Fer, who strained a hamstring in training a day after scoring the opening goal in the 2-0 win over Chile, also did not train. He has been ruled out of Sunday's match against Mexico and would also be in doubt for the quarterfinals if the Dutch advance that far.
With Brazil and Flamengo great Zico watching from the sidelines, the Dutch went through their paces under a hot midday sun — conditions that will go somewhere to preparing them for the heat they will likely have to contend with during their match with Mexico, which kicks off at 1 p.m. local time in the steamy north of Brazil.
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