Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal hinted that Memphis Depay could start Friday’s World Cup group game against Ecuador as the Barcelona star gradually returns to full fitness.

Depay had been sidelined for two months with a thigh injury before coming off the bench for the final half-hour of Monday’s opening Group A outing against Senegal. 

He then helped set up one of the goals as the three-time runners-up won 2-0.

“He has played 30 minutes and the next step would be 45 minutes,” said Van Gaal. “The injury he has makes it so difficult to decide when he can start so we have to look at him.

“But he is an extraordinary player and so I have set aside my principles because I consider him to be incredibly important to my team.

“I explained this to the players, that I am doing all this for Memphis, and the players accepted this.”

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