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Netherlands sweat on Martens fitness for women’s World Cup final


Lyon (AFP) – Netherlands star Lieke Martens remains a doubt for the women’s World Cup final against the United States as she struggles to shake off a toe injury, coach Sarina Wiegman said on Saturday.

“We are not sure if she can start, but we are working on it. We don’t know the outcome yet, so we will decide tomorrow morning,” said Wiegman at a press conference in Lyon, where Sunday’s final will be played.

The Barcelona winger came off at half-time in her team’s 1-0 extra-time defeat of Sweden in the semi-finals and later admitted to reporters that her foot “didn’t feel good”.

Named the best player at Euro 2017 which her country won as hosts, Martens has been a fixture in the Dutch team in France and scored both goals in the last-16 win over Japan.

This is just their second World Cup, so it would be a major surprise if the “Oranje” were to prevent the USA from retaining their trophy.

“I think we just need to approach the game as we approach every game,” said Wiegman.

“We know we are playing a top-level team so we need to perform even better and we will defend the way we always do, as a team.”

Wiegman, who spent time playing in the United States as a young player, also defended the American team against accusations of arrogance which have dogged them throughout the tournament.

“I just think that America has a lot of confidence and I think that is ok because they have a very good status,” she said.

“They have won many tournaments and they are in the top level all the time. It’s also a little bit part of the culture I think, so that is just the way it is.”

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