Illness sidelines Tottenham striker Vincent Janssen for Netherlands World Cup qualifier

George Flood
Vincent Janssen

Tottenham Hotspur striker Vincent Janssen will play no part for the Netherlands in their 2018 World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria on Saturday night (25 March), the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) has confirmed.

The 22-year-old is currently suffering from an unspecified illness and did not travel with his teammates to Sofia on Friday. In his absence, Dutch boss Danny Blind has opted to call-up current PSV Eindhoven forward and former Newcastle United loanee Luuk de Jong ahead of an important Group A clash at Vasil Levski National Stadium.

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It remains to be seen if Janssen will recover in time for Tuesday's high-profile friendly meeting with Italy in Amsterdam, or indeed Tottenham's top-flight visit to Burnley on 1 April.

This is the latest blow in what has been a fairly miserable 2016-17 campaign for Janssen. Much was expected of last year's Eredivisie top scorer following an £18.5m (€21.4m) summer move from AZ Alkmaar to White Hart Lane, but the old-school striker has managed only five goals in 31 total appearances across all competitions.

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Indeed, Janssen has started just five games in the Premier League to date and a recent strike in the 6-0 FA Cup quarter-final thrashing of League One outfit Millwall represented his first goal from open play in English football. The previous four came from the penalty spot.

Ankle ligament damage sustained by first-choice striker Harry Kane in that same match appeared to promise more regular opportunity, although it is perhaps indicative of his struggles in North London that manager Mauricio Pochettino again restricted him to a brief second-half cameo in last weekend's narrow 2-1 triumph over Southampton. Heung Min-Son, not a natural striker by any means, was chosen to lead the line instead.

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Janssen, who also struggled to take advantage of Kane's previous seven-week absence, claimed during a recent interview with Voetbal International that he would remain positive despite being less than satisfied with his playing time over recent months. He further insisted, as things were going well for the club, it would make no sense to "walk around as the only player whining".

Speaking on Janssen's situation after that emphatic win over Millwall, Pochettino spoke of delivering the misfiring frontman a wake-up call.

"It's true that in some period of the season his form was down," he said. "He needed a wake-up [call] to be reminded that the possibility of playing could arrive. He is very young. He came from Holland. I'm happy with him and all the players, but I understand they are not happy with some situations. He is okay, he is motivated, confident – he is feeling a little bit of relief after his first goal from open play and that is important. I am happy in the way that he trained this week too."

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