Netherlands without Martens and van der Gragt for Olympics qualifiers

The Dutch duo will not be turning out for their country in their crucial qualifying tournament, which begins on Wednesday, due to injuries.

Netherlands without Martens and van der Gragt for Olympics qualifiers
Martens' absence will be a huge one for the Netherlands. | Photo: FIFA

The Netherlands have been dealt a heavy blow in their pursuit of a spot at Rio 2016 as Lieke Martens and Stefanie van der Gragt have both withdrawn from their squad for the Olympics qualifiers through injury.

Martens, who scored her country's first ever World Cup goal last summer, will miss the week-long tournament through concussion, whilst van der Gragt has a knee injury that will stop her from playing a part.

The former suffered her injury during a training session on Monday and was forced to leave the camp as a result.

Twenty-year-old defender Jeslynn Kuijpers and in-form winger Myrthe Moorrees, both of PSV Eindhoven, have joined the Netherlands' 23-man squad to replace their national teammates ahead of the crucial trio of fixtures.

Big absences

Whilst van der Gragt's absence will be a significant loss to the Netherlands' sturdy back line, Martens will be an even bigger miss given how crucial she is to their devastating attack. Their ability to transition from defence to attack relies on their pace down the wings, which the 23-year-old provides in abundance.

As well as this, her clinical finishing helps her rack up goals for club and country and her absence means others will now have to step up and share the goal-scoring burden that Martens helps to ease.

Van der Gragt's absence will be felt at the back. | Photo: Calgary Herald
Van der Gragt's absence will be felt at the back. | Photo: Calgary Herald

Terrible timing

The news comes at a damning time for the Oranje, with it on the eve of their opening fixture of the qualifying tournament. 

They kick off the tournament tomorrow evening against Switzerland at the stadium of ADO Den Haag, with them having been granted the chance to be hosts of the qualifiers.

They then face Norway in Rotterdam on Saturday and Sweden on Wednesday 9 March. The team that finishes top of the four-team table will gain a place at Rio 2016.