Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said that his team would have to change how they play without “irreplaceable” striker Romelu Lukaku at the World Cup. However, team officials said that Lukaku has not been ruled out of the tournament yet.
Lukaku is still recovering from a two-month layoff and is having trouble with his hamstring. He may not be able to play in the finals in Qatar, where Belgium will play Canada on November 23.
But the team doctor, Kristof Sas, says that the latest injury is more of a “setback” than a fatal blow to the player’s chances of going to the World Cup.
“It’s not the end of the story yet, but it’s a setback for the player, his club, and the Red Devils,” Sas was quoted as saying by HLN.
Martinez talked last week about how important Lukaku is to his team and how he can play in a number of different attacking roles. Without him, they might have to change how their midfield and forward line work.
“He is irreplaceable for the Red Devils,” Martinez told Nieuwsblad. “Every national team has players who can’t be replaced. Look at Messi in Argentina, Modric, Brozovic, and Kovacic in Croatia, and these kinds of players in Spain and Germany as well. That’s how things work.
“It’s Courtois, De Bruyne, and Lukaku for us. You can’t just swap them out one for one. We have to play differently if they don’t play. If Lukaku isn’t there, we might want to play with more offensive players.”
Inter Milan, Lukaku’s Italian team, said on Monday that the player had a “myotendinous strain in his left hamstring” and would be watched this week to see how bad the problem was.
The 29-year-old started playing again last week and scored in a 4-0 Champions League win against Viktoria Plzen. On Saturday, he came off the bench in a 3-0 Serie A win against Sampdoria.