Van Gaal names 2 debutants in Dutch squad for WC qualifiers

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal named two debutants Friday in his squad for World Cup qualifiers against Latvia and Gibraltar as he seeks to strengthen the team’s flanks and its last line of defense.

Van Gaal said he named in-form Club Brugge forward Noa Lang to his 26-man squad because he is short on wingers.

“We’re looking for possibilities in those positions and … I like to give a young player a chance,” Van Gaal said.

He also gave Freiburg goalkeeper Mark Flekken his first full international call-up as one of four keepers in the squad.

“He’s been doing well in the Bundesliga,” Van Gaal said.

The Netherlands leads Group G on goal difference from Norway after six matches.

Van Gaal’s team travels to Riga to play Latvia on Oct. 8 before facing Gibraltar in Rotterdam three days later.

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Squad:

Goalkeepers: Justin Bijlow (Feyenoord), Joël Drommel (PSV Eindhoven), Mark Flekken (Freiburg), Tim Krul (Norwich)

Defenders: Nathan Aké (Manchester City), Daley Blind (Ajax), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Denzel Dumfries (Inter Milan), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Tyrell Malacia (Feyenoord), Jurriën Timber (Ajax), Stefan de Vrij (Inter Milan)

Midfielders: Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Davy Klaassen (Ajax), Teun Koopmeiners (Atalanta), Marten de Roon (Atalanta), Guus Til (Feyenoord), Georginio Wijnaldum (Paris Saint-Germain)

Forwards: Steven Berghuis (Ajax), Memphis Depay (Barcelona), Cody Gakpo (PSV Eindhoven), Luuk de Jong (Barcelona), Noa Lang (Club Brugge), Donyell Malen (Borussia Dortmund), Wout Weghorst (Wolfsburg)

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