World Cup 2018: Belgium drop Benteke

Defender Vincent Kompany has been named in Belgium’s 23-man squad for the World Cup despite being an injury doubt – but striker Christian Benteke misses out.

Manchester City captain Kompany, 32, suffered a groin injury during Saturday’s goalless draw with Portugal.

Manager Roberto Martinez said he would make a decision on the centre-back’s fitness closer to their opening match against Panama on 18 June.

He also said dropping Crystal Palace’s Benteke was his “toughest decision”.

Kompany has had a series of injuries over the past five seasons, although he was able play without problems for Premier League champions Manchester City from January until the end of the campaign.

Martinez – whose side are in England’s group – said he can call up a replacement until 24 hours before the Panama game.

“He is a true leader – his leadership is essential for us,” the Spaniard added.

The former Everton boss has trimmed his squad from 28 players, with Real Sociedad’s former Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj keeping his place.

“I expect a lot from him,” said Martinez. “He is a real talent in one-on-one situations. He will bring us freshness.”

Benteke has scored three goals for club and country this season and Martinez has preferred Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku and Michy Batshuayi of Chelsea for the central striker position.

Newcastle goalkeeper Matz Sels, Watford’s Christian Kabasele and fellow defender Jordan Lukaku of Lazio are the other players to miss out, while Los Angeles FC defender Laurent Ciman is on standby.

Belgium also face Tunisia in group G.

Final squad

Goalkeepers: Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool).

Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic), Vincent Kompnay (Manchester City), Thomas Meunier (Paris St-Germain), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur).

Midfielders: Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang), Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City), Mousa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Monchengladbach), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Youri Tielemans (Monaco), Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian).

Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea), Nacer Chadli (West Brom), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United).





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