Belgium gamble on Romelu Lukaku’s fitness for World Cup as Mario Gotze makes return to Germany squad

Belgium gamble on Romelu Lukaku’s fitness for World Cup as Mario Gotze makes return to Germany squad

Belgium have unsurprisingly taken a gamble on Romelu Lukaku’s fitness as Roberto Martinez named his World Cup squad.

The striker, on loan at Inter Milan from Chelsea, has played just 29 minutes of football since August, with a combination of thigh and hamstring injuries keeping him on the sidelines.

Lukaku scored four goals at Euro 2020 and has five World Cup goals to his name, and while he is likely to play a limited role in the three group-stage matches, Belgium boss Martinez is desperate to give the forward every chance to add to that tally.

“He is not completely fit medically, that is clear, but the last three days has been very positive,” Martinez said. “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 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. It is not an exceptional situation for us. We want him to play as big a role as he can give.”

Eden Hazard has hardly featured for Real Madrid this season but is one of the stars in the Belgium side, while Kevin De Bruyne will be looking to inspire his country in Qatar. Brighton’s Leandro Trossard is also included, and will arrive at the tournament in good form having scored seven Premier League goals this campaign.

Germany have also named their World Cup squad, with Mario Gotze earning his first international call-up for five years. The 30-year-old scored the winning goal in the 2014 final against Argentina, and gets another chance on the biggest stage.

There is also a place for 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko, with the striker scoring six Bundesliga goals for Borussia Dortmund so far this season.

His club team-mates Mats Hummels and Marco Reus miss out, while Timo Werner has been ruled out with an ankle injury. Thomas Muller did not score at the 2018 World Cup but gets another chance to add to the ten goals he has scored at the tournament.

Kai Havertz also makes the squad, while his Chelsea team-mate Hakim Ziyech is involved for Morocco. The winger retired from international football earlier this year after falling out with boss Vahid Halilhodzic, but he went back on that decision in September after there was a change of managers.