Rotherham (United Kingdom) (AFP) – The Netherlands are hopeful star striker Vivianne Miedema will be fit to face France in a highly-anticipated Euro 2022 quarter-final on Saturday.
Miedema missed the holders final two group games against Portugal and Switzerland after testing positive for coronavirus.
The Arsenal striker has returned to training, but Netherlands coach Mark Parsons refused to guarantee she will be ready to start.
“I said the other day, we need to get through three training sessions. We’ve got through two, so things are going well,” Parsons told his pre-match press conference on Friday.
“We have one more today. I’m spreading as much positive energy and optimism as possible, but we have to see.
“The only thing I am interested in is ‘is she available to play?’. Of course there is a conversation about minutes, but that’s the first step. And from there we need to make tactical choices.”
France centre-back Wendie Renard is likely to be tasked with keeping Miedema quiet and she warned the Netherlands’ all-time record goalscorer can take out “an entire team” on her own.
“Miedema is a very competitive player and she’ll want to play,” said Renard, an eight-time Champions League winner at club level for Lyon.
“She is a world-class player with the ability to hold the ball as well as take out an entire team.”
Despite making the last eight, the Netherlands have endured a rough ride in England after losing captain Sari van Veenendaal and influential forward Like Martens for the rest of the tournament due to injury.
But Parsons is confident his players will thrive in the pressure of the knockout rounds.
“This team steps up to the size of the occasion more than any team I’ve ever worked with,” he added.
“I feel less stressed and less worried when it’s a big occasion and big opponent.
“Tomorrow my confidence in players giving everything they have is very high. It’s a game that I think world football is looking forward to, these two great teams.”
France, by contrast, cruised through to the quarter-finals.
Les Bleues had Group D won after just two games following victories over Italy and Belgium before their 16-game winning streak was ended by a 1-1 draw with Iceland.
But French coach Corinne Diacre played down suggestions her side are strong favourites to reach the last four for the first time in a women’s European Championship.
“The Netherlands are the holders, and if either of us are favourites it should be them,” said Diacre.
“As everyone keeps telling us: we’ve never been past the quarter-finals so we can hardly be favourites.”
The winners of the clash in Rotherham will face Germany in the semi-finals.
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