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Denmark rebound hinges on strikers' fitness

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -- Denmark's prospects of bouncing back from a 2-0 loss to Netherlands in its World Cup opener on Monday depend largely on forwards Nicklas Bendtner and Jon Dahl Tomasson recovering to face Cameroon on Saturday.

Danish coach Morten Olsen had ruled Bendtner out of the opener due to a groin injury, but said he was forced to start him after Tomasson and midfielder Daniel Jensen were also sidelined on Sunday.

"We had to take chances. I was not bluffing about Bendtner, but we had new injuries with Tomasson and Jenssen and did not have the same number of attacking players. I had to take the risk of Bendtner playing a part," Olsen told reporters.

Bluff or not, the move did not really pay off. The tall 22 year-old had a few sniffs at goal in a first half the Danes controlled, but did not offer the firepower needed after they went behind in the second and was substituted on the hour.

"He couldn't play more. It was always our plan to replace him around then," the coach said.

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"What we saw was fine, and I think he will be fit for the next match," he said, adding that he also hopes Tomasson can return against the African side.

But with the Johannesburg altitude affecting even fit players, Danish defender Daniel Agger signalled how Bendtner's effort to recover is not an easy task.

"He hasn't played since April and when you play at this altitude it's a lot harder, it must have been really, really hard for him today," Agger said.

Questioned whether it seemd the striker would play on Saturday, Agger said: "I'm not a doctor, but I really hope so."

Cameroon looked weak in its 1-0 loss to Japan on Monday, but in Samuel Eto'o they have a hugely dangerous weapon. If Denmark want to avoid an early exit it needs its own arsenal back in good shape soon.