THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Netherlands coach Frank de Boer included two teenagers in his squad for next month’s European championships, with both defender Jurriën Timber and midfielder Ryan Gravenberch the latest products from the prodigious Ajax youth program.
De Boer was able to be a bit more risky in his choices since teams at the rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament have been allowed to name 26-player squads instead of 23 to help them cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
“Nineteen, but they are already big guys,” De Boer said Wednesday.
The coach has been forced to revamp his defense because captain Virgil van Dijk remains out as he continues to recover from ACL surgery. His right knee was damaged in October during a Premier League game.
Van Dijk said earlier this month he was “very gutted to miss the European Championship and leading out my own country there.”
Among those dropped from De Boer’s initial 34-man squad were Tottenham forward Steven Bergwijn, Aston Villa winger Anwar El Ghazi and AZ Alkmaar goalkeeper Marco Bizot.
The Netherlands plays its three Group C matches — against Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia — at Amsterdam’s Johan Cruyff Arena in front of at least 12,000 fans.
The Netherlands’ only major international tournament success came at the 1988 European Championship, when it beat the Soviet Union 2-0 in the final thanks, in part, to Marco van Basten’s volleyed second-half goal. The Dutch have reached the World Cup final three times and lost on each occasion.
Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen (Valencia), Tim Krul (Norwich), Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax)
Defenders: Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace), Nathan Aké (Manchester City), Daley Blind (Ajax), Denzel Dumfries (PSV Eindhoven), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Jurriën Timber (Ajax), Joel Veltman (Brighton & Hove Albion), Stefan de Vrij (Inter Milan), Owen Wijndal (AZ Alkmaar)
Midfielders: Donny van de Beek (Manchester United), Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Davy Klaassen (Ajax), Teun Koopmeiners (AZ Alkmaar), Marten de Roon (Atalanta), Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)
Forwards: Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord), Memphis Depay (Lyon), Cody Gakpo (PSV Eindhoven), Luuk de Jong (Sevilla), Donyell Malen (PSV Eindhoven), Quincy Promes (Spartak Moscow), Wout Weghorst, (Wolfsburg).