Netherlands coach Wiegman hopeful over Martens' toe injury

Lieke Martens has been troubled by an injury at the Women's World Cup, but coach Sarina Wiegman hopes she can star in the semifinals.

Lieke Martens looks set to play through the pain barrier again when Netherlands faces Sweden in the Women's World Cup semifinals.

Barcelona forward Martens aggravated a toe injury when celebrating her last-16 winner against Japan and, though she did not train prior to the quarterfinal clash with Italy, she completed 90 minutes as the Euro 2017 winner reached the last four. Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman noted Martens' problem has "not become worse" so hopes the woman voted the best player in the world two years ago can be called upon once more on Wednesday.

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"Lieke has had this injury for quite a long time but after the match facing Japan, she had more problems with her toe," Wiegman explained.

"She was able to play against Italy and the toe is injured but it's not in a worse state. Let's hope she can play. We all know she's a very good player but we also have seen this tournament that our team has become stronger and we have more players that can make a difference."


Should the toe injury prevent Martens from reaching her best against Sweden, Wiegman will hope Lyon's Shanice van de Sanden can step up in her home city. Despite winning back-to-back Champions Leagues with her club, her form with the national team has been questioned and the winger is yet to find the net in France.

"Shanice is a very important player for all of us, and during a long period of time she has scored goals, assisted goals," Wiegman added.

"Now in this very tournament her performance is slightly lower, however the opponents are stronger as well. It's difficult for her and the media criticise her a little bit too personally. However, the entire squad has to face criticism. We should not always focus on criticism."

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Wiegman acknowledged there has been extra attention on her team since Netherlands' triumph at the Euros on home soil two years ago, which happened to serve as an inspiration to Dutch football aficionado and Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson. "I was there throughout the Euros and seeing that final, before I took over this team, that was amazing," he explained.

"The football that was played was very close to our ideal so it's going to be an incredibly cool semifinal and it's going to be fun to see if we can beat one of my favourite countries when it comes to football."