Denmark Camp Focus – Sorensen back in the frame to start

Denmark received a huge injury boost after Thomas Sorensen declared himself fit for their opening World Cup game against the Netherlands. The Stoke City goalkeeper has been out of action with a dislocated elbow since April but now appears set for a return to the starting XI. Sorensen’s experience is priceless and with 86 caps under his belt, his inclusion will be very welcomed. Stephan Andersen has been used as back up during the friendlies but he has only seven caps to his name and lacks international experience. Nicklas Bendtner is close to a return to the first team but appears to have lost his battle to prove his fitness. He has missed the last month because of a groin injury but he was confident of being able to make the opener. The Arsenal striker plays a key role in the Danes’ attacking play and he has been missed in recent games. The Reds have failed to score in their last two games and have reverted to playing just one striker up front. Soren Larsen had a poor domestic campaign, which has left Olsen using captain Jon Dahl Tomasson up front by himself against Senegal, Australia and South Africa. Bendtner may not be fully fit for their first tie but he should be available for selection for their game against Cameroon.

It is not only the players who have been suffering of late, as Morten Olsen has been sidelined due to illness. It meant his assistant Peter Bonde took over Tuesday’s training session and Olsen had to cancel his press conference. It has not been the best of starts for the 60-year-old as he has not been able to take charge of team affairs. What was more important, however, was that he did not spread his illness to any of the playing staff. He has since made a comeback to training but he is still not 100%.

Denmark’s form going into Group E has been indifferent. After an impressive qualifying campaign, they have won only two of their last six friendly matches. If they are to progress to the next round of the tournament then they need all of their top players on form with no injuries. Unfortunately, this has not been the case for the last few weeks as defender Simon Kjaer and midfielder Thomas Kahlenberg are still doubts ahead of Monday’s game. Olsen’s squad has enough experience but when key players get injured there are few who can replace them. This has been evident during their preparations for South Africa but they are still capable producing results. Jesper Gronkjaer and Dennis Rommedahl may not have the pace anymore but they do know how to win games. They both appeared at the World Cup Finals in Japan and helped the team to progress to the second round before being knocked out by England.

Their first game against the Dutch will be a tough one and they will certainly come into the match as underdogs. The opposition have injury problems themselves with winger Arjen Robben doubtful with a hamstring injury. The loss of such an important player will give Denmark a slightly better chance of securing at least a point. Olsen will know that stopping Holland will be a tough task and a draw will be a good result for the Scandinavian outfit. If Kjaer fails to prove his fitness in time for the match then it will be Per Kroldrup who will partner Daniel Agger. A front line of Robin van Persie and Dirk Kuyt will ensure that the defence will be in for a tough afternoon. Their chances of advancing to the knockout stages depends on whether they can win against both Cameroon and Japan.

The Danes have a good track record in the World Cup, despite only appearing three times in their history. Denmark have always achieved qualification from the group stage of the World Cup. In addition to that they won their first game of the tournament on each occasion. It will be a tall order if they make it four wins in a row but if anyone knows how to pull it off it is Head Coach Morten Olsen. In 2002, Olsen’s side came from behind to win 2-1 against Uruguay, with Tomasson grabbing both goals. Eight years on, and both Tomasson and Olsen are still instrumental to Danish chances. Their chances of causing an upset on Monday are heavily dependant on the performance of the former and the tactical nous of the latter.


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