Senior players want say in choosing next Dutch coach

Football Soccer - Bulgaria v Netherlands - 2018 World Cup Qualifying European Zone - Group A - Vasil Levski Stadium, Sofia, Bulgaria - 25/03/17 - Netherland's Arjen Robben reacts. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Netherlands captain Arjen Robben believes he and experienced team mate Wesley Sneijder should be given a role in helping to find a replacement for former national team coach Danny Blind, who was sacked at the weekend.

"We have been in the team for the last 14 years and have told the KNVB (Dutch football association) that we want to be part of the process," the Bayern Munich winger told reporters after a 2-1 friendly defeat to Italy in Amsterdam on Tuesday.

"We have built up the right experience with coaches over the years and we know what this squad needs and we think we also have a good idea who would fit in with the group."

As captain, the 33-year-old said he had a responsibility to keep playing as the Netherlands struggle for form and are in danger of missing out on next year's World Cup.

"I am the first point of contact between the association and the players. I have no plans to stop. That's why Wesley and I want to be involved in the process," he told Dutch NOS television.

Louis van Gaal has emerged as the media favourite to return to the helm of a team he led to the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil but Robben said he did not want to discuss individual candidates.

"I would have Van Gaal high on my list but it is too early to start mentioning specific names."

The KNVB are looking for a replacement for Blind, who was fired on Sunday after a 2-0 loss in Bulgaria last week left the Netherlands in fourth place in their World Cup qualifying group, six points off the pace.

"These last days have been tumultuous. We did not see any of it coming. It is unbelievable how quickly things can change in the space of 24 hours," added Robben in reaction to the sacking.

Robben, with 90 caps, and 32-year-old Sneijder are the most experienced players in a relatively young Dutch squad.

Sneijder won his 128th cap on Tuesday as a late substitute and is now just two behind Edwin van der Sar's record number of Dutch international appearances.

The Netherlands play three more internationals this season, with friendlies against Morocco on May 31, the Ivory Coast on June 4 and then a World Cup qualifier at home to Luxembourg on June 9.

A new coach is expected to be named before those games.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by John O'Brien)