Bilic certain Scots will test Croatia

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The Independent Online

Scotland will provide an ideal test for Croatia in their Euro 2008 warm-up in Glasgow on 26 March, coach Slaven Bilic said yesterday.

"Scotland are such a competitive nation that any match against them can hardly be called a friendly," Bilic said after naming a 19-man squad. "It will be a real test that will show us where we stand two months before the European Championship because Scotland narrowly missed out on the finals from a very tough qualifying group," he added.

"It's also our final test before the preparations for Euro 2008 get underway in mid-May so we have to make the most of it."

Scotland finished third in Group B behind world champions Italy and France, while Group E winners Croatia qualified for the June finals in Austria and Switzerland along with Russia at the expense of England.

Bilic recalled Ivan Klasnic, back in action after a kidney transplant last year, and fellow striker Igor Budan, who has recovered from a long-term injury. Both are likely to get a chance at Hampden Park with Bilic set to try out various partnerships up front with Arsenal's Eduardo da Silva out of the tournament after breaking a leg.

"I've called less players than usual because I want to test certain candidates against Scotland, meaning that those I haven't called up are by no means written off," Bilic said.

Elsewhere, the Netherlands coach Marco van Basten has named a provisional 29-man squad for the friendly against Austria later this month. The Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar has been named in the squad despite struggling with a groin injury picked up in last weekend's FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Portsmouth.

The Arsenal forward Robin van Persie has also been included in the squad after making his long-awaited comeback against Wigan at the weekend following a string of injury problems.

The Dutch face Austria at the Ernst Happel stadium in Vienna on 26 March.

Van Basten, who will stand down as coach following this summer's tournament, will name his final squad for the match on 21 March.

* Parma are close to appointing former Valencia and Inter Milan boss Hector Cuper as their new coach, the Serie A strugglers said yesterday. Domenico Di Carlo was sacked on Monday after fourth bottom Parma suffered their 12th league defeat of the season on Sunday when they lost 2-1 at home to Sampdoria.

Croatia squad (v Scotland, Glasgow, 26 March): Pletikosa (Spartak Moscow), Galinovic (Panathinaikos), Corluka (Manchester City), Simic (Milan),Kovac (Borussia Dortmund), Simunic (Hertha Berlin), Knezevic (Livorno), Kovac (Salzburg), Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk), Modric (Dinamo Zagreb), Kranjcar (Portsmouth), Leko (Monaco), Pranjic (Heerenveen), Rakitic (Schalke 04), Vukojevic (Dinamo Zagreb), Petric (Borussia Dortmund), Olic (Hamburg), Budan (Parma), Klasnic (Werder Bremen).

Holland squad (v Austria, Vienna, 26 March): Van der Sar (Manchester United), Stekelenburg (Ajax), Timmer (Feyenoord); Bouma (Aston Villa), De Cler (Feyenoord), Emanuelson (Ajax), Heitinga (Ajax), Jaliens (AZ Alkmaar), Mathijsen (Hamburg), Melchiot (Wigan), Ooijer (Blackburn); Afellay (PSV Eindhoven), Van Bronckhorst, De Guzman (both Feyenoord), De Jong (Hamburg), Landzaat (Feyenoord), Maduro (Valencia), Mendes da Silva (AZ Alkmaar), Seedorf (Milan), Sneijder (Real Madrid), Van der Vaart (Hamburg), De Zeeuw (AZ Alkmaar); Babel (Liverpool), Huntelaar (Ajax), Koevermans (PSV Eindhoven), Kuyt (Liverpool), Van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid), Van Persie (Arsenal), Vennegoor of Hesselink (Celtic).

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