Thursday 24 October 2019

Belgium facing World Cup without Kompany

Vincent Kompany. Photo: Sportsfile
Vincent Kompany. Photo: Sportsfile

Sam Dean

Belgium are braced for the loss of Vincent Kompany from their World Cup squad after the Manchester City captain limped out of a pre-tournament friendly against Portugal with yet another injury.

Kompany was sent for a scan yesterday to determine the severity of the discomfort he felt in his groin during the second half of Saturday's 0-0 draw in Brussels.

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez sounded downbeat about the experienced defender's prospects of being available for the tournament, saying that Kompany "knows when something is not right".

His absence could throw Martinez's preparations into disarray as the former Everton manager, who names his final 23-man squad today, may now have to abandon his plans to play with a three-man defence.

If he is ruled out of the World Cup in Russia, where Belgium face England in the group stage, it would be the second consecutive international tournament that Kompany has missed.

The 32-year-old was absent during Belgium's Euro 2016 campaign, when they were defeated in the quarter-finals by Wales, because of a thigh injury.

Kompany is one of the most senior figures in the Belgium squad and led the pre-match team talk in a huddle before kick-off against Portugal.

He seemed to stretch his leg in a second-half challenge on Gelson Martins and was seen talking to Martinez before heading down the tunnel.

Kompany's fitness problems are just the latest challenge for Martinez, whose side were booed off the pitch in Brussels following their disappointing showing against the European champions.

Kompany's Manchester City clubmate Kevin De Bruyne described Belgium's lack of coherence as "growing pains" and said of the fans' reaction: "They do whatever they want to do. We are preparing ourselves on every level to be ready for the World Cup. You have growing pains. We knew that it was the first game after such a long time.

"We did good things and we did bad things. It was not the most enjoyable game - we know that. We still have to do our job. Everybody wants to enjoy their football. We also want to win 5-0 but these days it is very difficult to do that."

There was also a minor injury scare for Thibaut Courtois, who required treatment on the pitch after taking a knock to his wrist, but the Chelsea goalkeeper was able to play on.

"We must not forget that we played against the European champions," Courtois said. "We started well and it was good for the first 20 minutes. We must not forget that for many it was the first match in two weeks and that is not physically easy."

Belgium's next friendly is on Wednesday against Egypt, who received a boost yesterday when Mo Salah tweeted that his recovery from injury was going well.

© Daily Telegraph, London.

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