Romelu Lukaku has been included in Roberto Martinez’s 26-man World Cup squad, although question marks remain over his fitness for the tournament.
The striker, who is currently on loan at Inter Milan from Chelsea, has had an injury-hit start to the season. Lukaku has been suffering with a hamstring injury which,
coupled with a thigh problem earlier this season, means he has played just twice since August for the Serie A side.
Martinez had previously said he would only take Lukaku if he could play in at least one group game, adding after the announcement: “He is not completely fit medically, that is clear, but the last three days has been very positive. We will give Romelu every second to be fit.
“At this stage, we feel he will be able to take part in at least one of those three (Group F) games. But we will keep assessing and have up until November 22 to make a decision.
“His situation is similar to [Axel] Witsel’s in the run-up to the previous European Championship. Or Vincent Kompany’s in 2018 [ahead of the World Cup]. It is not an exceptional situation for us. We want him to play as big a role as he can give.”
Elsewhere, Eden Hazard has also been included, despite being mostly on the sidelines at Real Madrid this season and he has not played in La Liga since September having fallen out of favour with coach Carlo Ancelotti.
However, he is a talismanic figure for Belgium and Martinez has set aside concerns with his match fitness and form.
“I am looking for Eden to come as captain of the squad and show what an incredible player we have. He is enjoying his football, I can see that, the only concern is the match fitness,” the head coach said on Thursday.
The Premier League also has a strong contingent with Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, Leicester’s Youri Tielemans, Wout Faes and Timothy Castagne, Everton midfielder Amadou Onana, Brighton’s Leandro Trossard and Aston Villa midfielder Leander Dendoncker.
Belgium’s World Cup squad in full
Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Simon Mignolet (Club Brugge), Koen Casteels (VfL Wolfsburg).
Defenders: Jan Vertonghen (Anderlecht), Toby Alderweireld (Royal Antwerp), Wout Faes (Leicester), Arthur Theate (Rennes), Zeno Debast (Anderlecht), Thomas Meunier (Borussia Dortmund), Timothy Castagne (Leicester).
Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne (Man City), Youri Tielemans (Leicester), Amadou Onana (Everton), Axel Witsel (Atletico Madrid), Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge), Leander Dendoncker (Aston Villa), Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund).
Forwards: Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Charles De Ketelaere (AC Milan), Leandro Trossard (Brighton), Dries Mertens (Galatasaray), Jeremy Doku (Rennes), Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan), Michy Batshuayi (Fenerbahce), Lois Openda (Lens).
Belgium’s World Cup group stage fixtures
All kick-offs GMT
Belgium vs Canada – November 23, kick-off 7pm
Belgium vs Morocco – November 27, kick-off 1pm
Croatia vs Belgium – December 1, kick-off 3pm
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