Wesley Sneijder dropped from Netherlands squad, Ryan Babel returns

Wesley Sneijder has been dropped by Netherlands and winger Ryan Babel recalled for the first time in six years for two crucial World Cup qualifiers.

Netherlands are third in Group A, four points behind leaders France and three behind second-place Sweden, and travel to Belarus before hosting Sweden.

Coach Dick Advocaat said he did not select midfielder Sneijder, who has played a record 132 matches for the national team, because he cannot break into the first team at Nice.

"He remains an outstanding player, but he has to play and get into the Nice team," Advocaat said.

Babel, a former Ajax and Liverpool winger, made the team for the first time since November 2011 in the absence of injured Quincy Promes after strong performances for Turkish club Besiktas.

"He deserves to be back," Advocaat said. "With Promes out, he's a great alternative."

Advocaat will be without defender Stefan de Vrij and Bruno Martins Indi, both injured, as Netherlands look to avert the danger of failing to qualify for a second consecutive major tournament.

Group winners qualify automatically for next year's World Cup in Russia. The top eight second-place teams advance to European playoffs.

Sweden have a better goal difference than Netherlands so could lose one of their last two matches, against Luxembourg and the Dutch, and still finish at least second even if Advocaat's side win both their games.

"The most important thing is that we win and then see how many goals we can score,'' Advocaat said.