Nov 10 (Reuters) – Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has included injured striker Romelu Lukaku and playmaker Eden Hazard in his 26-man squad for the World Cup in Qatar, saying he will give the former “every second” to get back into shape for the tournament. .
Lukaku is struggling with a hamstring injury which, coupled with a thigh problem earlier this season, means he has only played twice since August and is currently on the sidelines of his club, the InterMilan.
But Martinez has previously said that as long as Lukaku can feature in one of the team’s Group F games against Canada, Morocco or Croatia, he will take him to the tournament.
After naming four players on a reserve list – Bryan Heynen, Alexis Saelemaekers, Dodi Lukebakio and Jason Denayer – he has until 24 hours before Belgium’s first game against Canada on November 23 to sign them to the squad. if someone is out of shape.
“He (Lukaku) is not fully fit medically, that’s for sure, but the last three days have been very positive. We will give Romelu every second to be fit,” Martinez told reporters on Thursday.
“At this stage, we think he will be able to participate in at least one of these three games (in Group F). But we will continue to evaluate and we will have until November 22 to make a decision.
“His situation is similar to that of (Axel) Witsel approaching the previous European Championship. Or that of Vincent Kompany in 2018 (before the World Cup).
“It’s not an exceptional situation for us. We want him to play as big a role as possible.”
Hazard has been mostly on the sidelines at Real Madrid this season and hasn’t played in La Liga since September, having fallen out of favor with manager Carlo Ancelotti.
However, he is a talismanic figure for Belgium and Martinez has put aside concerns over his form and fitness.
“I’m looking for Eden to come on as captain of the team and show what an amazing player we have. He enjoys his football, I can see that, the only concern is match fitness.”
Martinez has largely gone with his proven players but made a few generic choices, including Everton midfielder Amadou Onana, who he believes provides an x-factor.
“It’s his profile, it’s been refreshing to see his qualities,” said the coach.
“He’s completely different from what we have. We have our defensive midfielders, playmakers and attacking midfielders, but he brings physicality and a different profile that looks more like Marouane Fellaini in 2018.”
Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois, Simon Mignolet, Koen Casteels
Defenders: Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Leander Dendoncker, Zeno Debast, Arthur Theate, Wout Faes
Midfielders: Hans Vanaken, Axel Witsel, Youri Tielemans, Amadou Onana, Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Carrasco, Thorgan Hazard, Timothy Castagne, Thomas Meunier
Attackers: Romelu Lukaku, Michy Batshuayi, Lois Openda, Charles De Ketelaere, Eden Hazard, Jeremy Doku, Dries Mertens, Leandro Trossard
Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Ken Ferris
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