De Bruyne & Hazard lead Belgium’s 28-man preliminary World Cup squad as Nainggolan dropped, Final 23 to be announced on June 4th
The full squad:
Goalkeepers: Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Mats Sels (Newcastle);
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic), Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles FC), Christian Kabasele (Watford), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Jordan Lukaku (Lazio), Thomas Meunier (Paris Saint-Germain), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham);
Midfielders: Nacer Chadli (West Brom), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Mousa Dembele (Tottenham), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Youri Tielemans (Monaco), Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian);
Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Monchengladbach), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United), Dries Mertens (Napoli).
The Red Devils chief has picked a strong line-up in hope of delivering the first international trophy in the country’s history.
As expected Chelsea star Eden Hazard is set to lead the way for Belgium, while Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini also take their place in the provisional squad.
A surprise inclusion came in the form of Christian Benteke, who despite a poor season with Crystal Palace has been included in the final 23.
The squad is to be given a final cut on June 4, at which point the confirmed 23-man selection for the tournament will be revealed.
West Brom’s Nacer Chadli will also be considered by Martinez, despite a lack of playing time with the Baggies throughout the 2017/18 campaign.
The most surprising omission of Martinez’s selection came in the form of Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan, who has enjoyed a solid season for his side both domestically and in the Champions League.
For Martinez, the reason to leave fan-favourite Nainggolan out of the set-up purely came down to tactics.
‘We all know Radja is top player, but the reason is clear, a tactical reason,’ Martinez explained to media during his squad announcement on Monday.
‘In last two years the team has worked in an offensive way. In the case of Radja he has important role at club level and I don’t think we can give him that.
‘I traveled to Rome to see him and share some thoughts, we had a good conversation. The decision is not an easy one.’