Belgium have been dealt a big blow ahead of their World Cup bow against Canada on Wednesday, with star forward Romelu Lukaku set to miss not just that encounter, but possibly the entirety of the group stages.
The first two matches will definitely come too soon for the Inter Milan frontman, and his niggling thigh complaint may also rule him out beyond that too.
Lukaku’s absence is not only a setback for Roberto Martinez’s side, but also for the tournament as a whole, with global stars Sadio Mane and Karim Benzema among those already forced out of their Qatar showpiece with injury in the last few days.
According to Brazilian outlet Globo, Lukaku did not train on Sunday in Belgium’s first public session since arriving in Doha, as he struggles to overcome the problem that he first contracted in August with Inter.
After facing Canada, Belgium’s second and third games in Group F are against Morocco and Croatia respectively.
Despite Lukaku’s absence, the Red Devils are one of a number of teams in contention for the World Cup, as evidenced by their FIFA rank of No. 2 going into the tournament.
Kevin De Bruyne remains their key man, with the likes of Real Madrid pair Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard hoping to provide quality around the Manchester City schemer.