Vol. 5 Num 652 Wed. March 29, 2006  

Ruud assured of WC place

Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy's place in the Dutch World Cup squad is not in doubt, according to coach Marco van Basten.

The 29-year-old Van Nistelrooy has found himself on the bench recently for United, with Alex Ferguson preferring Frenchman Louis Saha to partner Wayne Rooney.

"I made clear to him (Van Nistelrooy) that he should not worry about his spot in the Dutch squad," Van Basten said in an interview with the Dutch weekly magazine, Voetbal International.

Second-placed United play West Ham United on Wednesday looking for a seventh consecutive league win and Ferguson has hinted that Van Nistelrooy will start.

"It has not been easy for Ruud sitting on the bench has been impossible to leave Louis Saha out since the Carling Cup final, given his tremendous scoring form," Ferguson said in the match programme for Wednesday's game.

"Playing three strikers is possible in some games...but not always because it can leave the wrong balance.

"The one thing that's certain is that all three will play their part and help us maintain the momentum."

Van Nistelrooy is the joint leading scorer in the Premier League this season with 19 goals, the same as Arsenal's Thierry Henry.