Belgium coach Roberto Martinez delivered a 24-man World Cup squad on Monday with his iconic but often injured captain Vincent Kompany on the roster, accompanied by a potential replacement.
The Manchester City central defender picked up an injury in a friendly with Portugal on Saturday and FIFA rules stipulate injured players can be replaced up to 24 hours before a nation’s first group phase game.
Belgium play a Group A game with Panama on June 18 in Sochi. If Kompany is unfit Martinez will drop him in favour of Laurent Ciman, who plays for Los Angeles in the MLS.
“We are doing everything to give Vincent his chance but one thing is clear, if he’s not fit in time he’s not going to the World Cup,” said Belgium’s Spanish coach Roberto Martinez.
Martinez proved his ruthless streak by earlier leaving Radja Nainggolan out of the 27-man provisional squad after a series of run ins with the Roma midfielder, including missing training.
The three men trimmed from the Belgium squad were misfiring Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke, Watford’s Christian Kabasele and Jordan Lukaku of Lazio.
The surprise inclusion on the list is Adnan Januzaj, a midfielder formerly of Manchester United, who plays for Real Sociedad in Spain.
Goalkeepers: Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg/GER), Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea/ENG), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool/ENG)
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham/ENG), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic/SCO), Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles/USA – to replace Kompany if unfit), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City/ENG), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona/ESP), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham/ENG)
Midfielders: Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yinfang/CHN), Nacer Chadli (WBA/ENG), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City/ENG), Mousa Dembele (Tottenham/ENG), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United/ENG), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad/ESP), Youri Tielemans (Monaco/FRA), Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian/CHN), Thomas Meunier (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA)
Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Eden Hazard (Chelsea/ENG), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia M’gladbach/GER), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United/ENG), Dries Mertens (Naples/ITA).