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Van Persie is fit and raring to go

sports Updated: Jun 05, 2008 08:02 IST

He was supposed to fill the void that Thierry Henry left at Arsenal this season. Because of injuries, he failed.

At the European Championship, Robin van Persie now gets a belated shot a proving he belongs among Europe’s greatest players. “At last. What a relief,” he said, after his first full training session with the Dutch team Wednesday after overcoming a month-long thigh strain.

Even if he might not be ready for the Netherlands’ starting lineup in its opening game Monday against world champion Italy, expect Van Persie to come off the bench when needed - and be fully ready for the opening whistle in the other Group C games against France and Romania.

“I am available. It is up to the coach to make a decision to play me. I’d put myself in the game 9 times out of 10,” he said.

In qualifying for Euro 2008, Van Persie was perhaps Van Basten’s most important player - scoring and setting up several vital goals as the Dutch scraped through with often sub-par play. He hurt his knee during a 2-0 win over Slovenia in October that effectively assured qualification.