Selection of 23 Red Devils for the World Cup in Russia
With less than one week until the Football World Cup kicks-off, the list of 23 Red Devils who will defend their country's colours in Russia is almost finalised
Given the lingering uncertainties over the seriousness of the injury to Vincent Kompany, Roberto Martinez has announced that if the Manchester City captain is unavailable, Laurent Ciman will stand in at the last minute. In accordance with FIFA regulations, the final list of the 23 devils who will head to Russia must be revealed by 4 June. After this date, a substitute (and even a player not on the list) can still replace a player with a long-term injury duly recognised by the FIFA Medical Committee. This can happen up to 24 hours before Belgium officially enters the tournament (on 18 June against Panama in Sochi).
The coach has already made some interesting choices such as depriving himself of the services of Radja Nainggolan "for tactical reasons". In contrast, the last minute invitation extended to Adnan Januzaj was "a deserved surprise" according to Roberto Martinez.
A few practice games are on the programme for the Devils before the big departure. They are playing friendlies against Portugal (2 June: 0-0), Egypt (6 June: 3-0) and Costa Rica (11 June: 4-1). Then, the 23 players selected will fly to Russia and attempt to qualify for the final 16. To do so, they have to finish as one of the top two teams in their group which also includes Panama (game on 18 June at 5pm in Sochi), Tunisia (game on 23 June at 2pm in Moscow) and finally England (game on 28 June at 8pm in Kaliningrad).
Here is the list of the 23 players selected:
Goalkeepers: Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg/Germany), Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea/England), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool/England),
Backs: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur/England), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic/Scotland), Leander Dendoncker (RSC Anderlecht), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City/England) or Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles FC/USA), Thomas Vermaelen (FC Barcelona/Spain), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur/England)
Midfielders: Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yinfang/China), Nacer Chadli (West Bromwich Albion/England), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City/England), Mousa Dembélé (Tottenham Hotspur/England), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United/England), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad/Spain), Thomas Meunier (Paris Saint-Germain/France), Youri Tielemans (AS Monaco/France), Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian/China)
Strikers: Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea/England, on loan to Borussia Dortmund/Germany), Eden Hazard (Chelsea/England), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Mönchengladbach/Germany), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United/England), Dries Mertens (Napoli/Italy)