Netherlands forward Lieke Martens has been ruled out of the rest of the women’s European Championship, the country’s football association (KNVB) said on Tuesday, dealing a blow to the defending champions ahead of the knockout stages.
The 29-year-old has started all three of the Netherlands’ matches at this summer’s Euros and her experience will be missed.
She had been injured but recovered just in time for the tournament but the Netherlands team said she suffered a foot injury during the group stage win over Switzerland.
It is not the first time that Martens has suffered an injury setback at a major tournament after she endured through a toe complaint during her nation’s run at the 2019 World Cup in France.
“This is terrible news for Lieke and for us. She has fully committed herself to the team during this tournament,” Netherlands coach Mark Parsons said in a statement on Tuesday.
“It is very unfortunate that her European Championship has to end like this.”
Martens shot to fame during the last edition of the Euros, held in the Netherlands, and was named Player of the Tournament before going on to win both the UEFA Player of the Year and FIFA Best awards for 2017.
She also put in a star performance for Barcelona in the 2020-21 Champions League final to help her team lift the club’s first European crown.
Martens’ absence is the most recent in an increasing line of injury and COVID-19 worries for the Dutch. The reigning European champions having lost both captain Sari van Veenendaal and defender Aniek Nouwen to injuries during their opening match of the tournament against Sweden.
For their second group game, the Dutch were without key players Jackie Groenen and Vivianne Miedema after both returned positive COVID tests but Nouwen and Groenen returned for their third group match as Miedema has remained out.
Not quite firing on all cylinders since Mark Parsons took charge of the squad after Sarina Wiegman left to the England job, the Netherlands have overcome the setbacks they’ve faced this month.
The Netherlands are set to face France in the last of the four quarterfinals on Saturday in Rotherham.
Information from Reuters was included in this report.