JOHANNESBURG // Robin van Persie has been cleared to face Uruguay in the World Cup semi-finals despite injuring his left elbow against Brazil. Monique Kessels, the Dutch team spokeswoman, said yesterday a scan had showed the injury was not as serious as first feared. "It was his elbow. I don't know the exact results of the scan but it's good news," Kessels said. Joris Mathijsen, the defender, is also fit, Kessels said, despite being a late withdrawal before Friday's 2-1 quarter-final win over Brazil because of a right knee injury.
"The injuries to both players are not that serious," Kessels said. "Van Persie trained but not with the group, so that he did not have any physical contact with the other players. Mathijsen also trained on his own his own but later joined in with the others." Although Van Persie has been cleared to play, his form at the World Cup has not been as good as the Dutch had hoped. He has started all five games but has been taken off each time and scored only once, in the team's 2-1 final Group E victory over Cameroon.
Meanwhile, Diego Lugano, the Uruguay captain, is struggling to be fit for the Holland encounter. Lugano injured a right knee ligament in the quarter-final win against Ghana, but was able to jog in straight lines during training yesterday, raising hopes he could be fit for tomorrow's match. "It's complicated because the time between matches is so short now," the central defender said. "But I was lucky enough to be able to train and run in straight lines, which is very favourable."
Uruguay, two-time champions, are through to the semi-finals for the first time in 40 years. The defence has been a major factor in the team's progress, conceding just two goals , but injuries and suspensions will mean changes for the semi-final. Left-back Jorge Fucile will miss the match after receiving a second yellow card against Ghana, while central defender Diego Godin is also a doubt with a thigh problem. Striker Luis Suarez is suspended after the last-minute red card he was shown for his handball on the line against Ghana.
The absences make Lugano's recovery all the more important. "The risk of pain is the last thing on my mind," Lugano said. "Everybody wants to play in these games but the question is whether I'm physically 100 per cent to be able to play a game at this level. "I have to be honest with the team and if I'm not able to play there are other players who can come in and do a good job. I'm doing everything I can to be fit and then the coaching staff and doctor will make a decision about whether I play." * AP