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Belgium sweating over fitness of Romelu Lukaku ahead of World Cup

Lukaku is struggling with a hamstring injury but the Inter striker has not been ruled out of the tournament yet.

Romelu Lukaku (FC Inter) celebrates his goal during the match between FC Internazionale and Viktoria Plzen, UEFA Champions League, Group C, at Giuseppe Meazza stadium in Milan on October 26, 2022. (Photo by Luca Rossini/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Belgium head coach Roberto Martínez says the absence of “irreplaceable” Romelu Lukaku from the World Cup would force his side to change the way they play.

Lukaku is struggling with a hamstring injury but the Inter striker has not been ruled out of the tournament yet, team officials confirmed.

Having recently returned from two months on the sidelines Lukaku is now a major concern for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Belgium play against Canada in their opener on 23 November.

The national team doctor, Kristof Sas, has described the latest injury as a “setback” rather than a definitive blow to the player’s World Cup chances.

“It is not yet a line through the issue, but it is a setback for the player himself, his club and the Red Devils (Belgium national team),” Sas was quoted by HLN.

Importance of Lukaku

Belgium boss Martínez spoke last week about the importance of Lukaku. Without the attacker the Spanish coach could be forced into restructure his midfield and forward line.

“At the Red Devils, he is irreplaceable,” Martinez told Nieuwsblad. “Every national team has irreplaceable players. Look at Argentina with Messi, Croatia with Modric, Brozovic and Kovacic, Spain and Germany also have such players. That’s just how it works.

“With us it’s Courtois, De Bruyne and Lukaku. You cannot replace them one on one. If they don’t play, we have to play in a different way. If Lukaku is not there, maybe we should play with more attackers.”

Inter confirm injury

Inter confirmed on Monday that the 29-year-old had suffered a “myotendinous strain in his left hamstring” and would be monitored this week to ascertain the severity of the problem.

Lukaku returned to club action last week, scoring in Inter’s 4-0 Champions League Group C win over Viktoria Plzen, and came off the bench on Saturday to play in the 3-0 Serie A win over Sampdoria.


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