Injured Bendtner to miss opener

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The Independent Football

Denmark are prepared to launch their World Cup campaign without Nicklas Bendtner after coach Morten Olsen conceded yesterday that it was a dream to think the striker would be fit to play in their opener.

Hampered by a nagging groin injury Bendtner has not played since May but had shown signs of returning to match fitness during the week when he started training again with the squad. The Arsenal forward was back on the sidelines yesterday, with Olsen admitting their was little chance he would be leading the attack against the Netherlands.

Denmark will travel to Johannesburg today ahead of their Group E opener on Monday. Olsen said: "We'd love to have him back of course but I think I would be dreaming to have him back. I don't think he will play. We hope to have him back [sometime during the World Cup], he is good player, a talented player."

The 22-year-old Bendtner did not sound optimistic about his own chances and cut a forlorn figure as he was left alone pacing the goal-line while his team-mates practised on another pitch. "You want to be 100 per cent but you have to take it day-by-day and see what happens," he said.