Roberto Martinez admits he doesn’t know if Romelu Lukaku will be fit for ANY of the World Cup group stage matches in Belgium – as he confirms Eden Hazard will be the team’s captain in the Canada’s opener, despite having not started a game in over a month.
Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku will miss his country’s World Cup opener against Canada on Wednesday night and could also miss the second game against Morocco.
Lukaku, 29, hasn’t played a game since October 29 due to a left thigh injury and hasn’t played 90 minutes since Inter Milan’s Serie A opener against Lecce on August 13.
“We are very happy with the way he is progressing. He had a very good session yesterday, not with a group, but he is improving steadily,’ Belgian coach Roberto Martinez said on Tuesday.
There is no timetable yet for Romelu Lukaku’s return from a thigh injury which has kept him out since October.
“We don’t have a schedule. I wouldn’t be able to say if it’s going to be game two or game three,” he said.
“If I follow the medical advice, at this stage it would be Game 3. If I follow the player’s feelings, we probably have a chance for Game 2.
Captain Eden Hazard will start despite a decrease in playing time at Real Madrid this season. The 31-year-old has only made two starts – in La Liga on September 11 and in the Champions League on October 11.
“It’s been a difficult situation in terms of minutes played,” Martinez said. “We are a better team when Eden Hazard is in our dressing room, that’s for sure.”
Hazard before the World Cup kicked off admitted leaving Real Madrid in the not-too-distant future was a distinct possibility after struggling for playing time this season.
The Inter Milan striker endured a difficult 18 months in which he failed to deliver at Chelsea and didn’t enjoy the kind of glorious return to Italy he was anticipating.
His time in the Spanish capital has been marred by injury concerns as well as general concerns over his fitness. Following the Champions League success in May, Hazard promised Real Madrid fans that they would see a much better version of him this season. So far, that hasn’t materialized, with his playing time being even more limited. He’s only appeared for a total of 229 minutes this season, starting only twice.
“I would be lying if I said it was positive. I am not playing. I train. I barely missed a session. I have no criticism for the coach (Carlo Ancelotti). He gave his explanations at a press conference. It’s hard for him to always answer the same questions,’ Hazard told Sport reporters about his current situation.
“We spoke at the start of the season. He asked me to do my best. I’m trying. I’m at an impasse. I want to play more. I accept this situation.
Eden Hazard (L) will start and captain the national team despite struggling to buy time at Real Madrid
“I try to show every day in training that I can give more, that I still have good things to give. I try to keep smiling. Sometimes there are mornings when it’s more difficult. When I think I’m playing and not playing. It’s up to me to adapt.
Meanwhile, he also said: “In January it is impossible (to leave), because I have family and I love the city.
‘But in summer it is possible that I go there. I still have a year of contract and it is the decision of the club.
“If the club says to me ‘Eden, thank you for four years, but you have to go’, I have to accept it because it’s normal.
“But I would like to play more, show more that I can play, that I am a good player.”
Roberto Martinez defended the player and said they were a better team with him