Koeman still without Heitinga

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AJAX defender Johnny Heitinga is still struggling with his knee injury and is not expected to make a return before the end of the season.

The 18-year-old had surgery in February in the hope that he would return at some point in April, but the player is still feeling pain and has been told to halt his rehabilitation programme.

Heitinga is reporting pain when he attempts to fully extend his leg, and another bout of surgery may be required.

The injury is similar to that of team-mate Rafael van der Vaart, who had to have a second operation after he failed to shake off the problem.

The news will be a blow to ArenA head coach Ronald Koeman, who saw his defence crumble at the hands of Vitesse Arnhem at the weekend.

The Amsterdammers surrendered a one-goal lead and were ruefully exposed at set-pieces.

Late in the game the usually reliable Jan van Halst made a terrible error to allow Emile Mbamba to notch the third, and Koeman would have hoped Heitinga could have answered the call.

This will not now be the case, and Ajax will have to fight for the title with the resources already at the ArenA.