AMSTERDAM, (Reuters) – Robin van Persie is in line for a recall to the Netherlands national team after an absence of almost two years.
The Fenerbahce forward was named on Wednesday in a preliminary squad for two key World Cup qualifiers in the next fortnight.
Ryan Babel and Eljero Elia have also been recalled as coach Dick Advocaat named 32 players for the important qualifier against Group A leaders France in Paris on Aug. 31 and then at home to Bulgaria in Amsterdam on Sept. 3.
There is a first call-up for Ajax Amsterdam’s 20-year-old midfielder Donny van de Beek, who scored two in the early rounds of the Champions League over the last month.
The 34-year-old van Persie, whose 50 goals in 101 internationals makes him the the Netherlands’ top scorer, last played in a 3-2 loss to the Czech Republic in the European Championship qualifier in October 2015. He scored an own goal and was later dropped by Advocaat’s predecessor Danny Blind.
“I worked with him last season at Fenerbahce where he showed what he could do. Robin is a player we might still need but we’ll see in the next weeks how fit he is and if he is playing,” Advocaat said in a statement released by the Dutch football association.
“This is a preliminary squad so players can fall out or be included later.”
Besiktas striker Babel, 30, was last in the team in late 2011, while Elia, who also plays in Turkey, for Basaksehir, has not been in the team since 2012.
Advocaat was named in May to try and resurrect the Dutch’s hopes of qualifying for the next World Cup in Russia as they sit third in their group with 10 points from six games, three behind joint leaders France and Sweden.