Soccer-De Ligt to return to Dutch defence against Austria

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Netherlands will have defender Matthijs de Ligt back in the starting line-up for Thursday’s European Championship Group C clash with Austria after he missed the team's first game at the tournament, coach Frank de Boer said on Wednesday.

De Boer told a news conference that the 21-year-old De Ligt, who picked up a groin injury on the last day of his country’s training camp in Portugal about 10 days ago, would start the game at the Johan Cruyff Arena but refused to reveal who in the five-man defence would be dropped.

"De Ligt is in very good shape, has trained well and has shown that he is completely ready," De Boer said.

It is expected to be the only change to the team that forced a dramatic late 3-2 win over Ukraine in Amsterdam on Sunday.

Austria also won their opening game in the group, beating debutants North Macedonia 3-1 in Bucharest.

Asked what impression they had made on him, De Boer answered: "A good one. They can play different systems from what I've seen. It's a good team, lots of Red Bull (Salzburg) players. Then you know what happens: Volgassfussball (full gas football)."

De Boer also reacted to the one-match suspension handed to Austria striker Marko Arnautovic for his goal celebration against North Macedonia.

"I saw that there was an investigation, but I don't know exactly what it was about. I am sorry for Austria, because he is a good player. It will be a loss for Austria and in that respect it is an advantage for us," De Boer said.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ed Osmond)