Jeremy Doku and Leandro Trossard were called up to the Belgian team for the European Championship on Monday along with the regulars from the country’s “Golden Generation”.
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez named Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, and Axel Witsel to his 26-man roster for the continental tournament. Martinez also selected a group of 11 reserve players who could step up in case of injuries before the tournament, which begins June 11.
“There are still some games to play at the national level, in terms of possible injuries and possible changes, especially in these uncertain times,” Martinez said. “We have 11 players who will serve as substitute players.”
Teams have been allowed to select squads of 26 players instead of the usual 23 to help them weather the coronavirus pandemic. Final 26-man squads must be dispatched by June 1.
Belgium will play in Group B, opening against Russia on June 12. The top-ranked Belgians will face Denmark and Finland.
Doku, an 18-year-old forward, was rewarded for his strong performances with French club Rennes this season. His speed and technique make him an excellent candidate for a super substitute role within a team full of offensive riches.
Trossard could be a suitable replacement for Hazard, who has been struggling to stay in shape. The diminutive Brighton striker has similarities to the Real Madrid striker, with excellent dribbling, good vision, and a sense of goal. The 26-year-old Trossard scored a pair of goals in March in qualifying for the World Cup and has been consistent with his Premier League club recently.
Witsel has yet to return from a serious Achilles tendon injury he sustained in January, but Martinez said he received good news about his rehab.
“In Axel’s situation, we must be very clear that we do not expect anything,” said Martínez. “This is just a reward for what he has done for the national team, and his career and the good work he has done in recent months. The real decision with Axel Witsel will be on June 11 ”.
Martinez said Witsel needs more time to get ready but insisted he feels “very confident that he could play an important role” during the tournament.
The only major name missing was Marouane Fellaini, but his absence came as no surprise as the former Manchester United defender who now plays in China has not played for Belgium since 2018.
Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Simon Mignolet (Club Brugge), Matz Sels (Strasbourg)
Defenders: Jan Vertonghen (Benfica), Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Thomas Vermaelen (Vissel Kobe), Dedryck Boyata (Hertha Berlin), Jason Denayer (Lyon)
Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Axel Witsel (Borussia Dortmund), Youri Tielemans (Leicester), Leander Dendoncker (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge), Dennis Praet (Leicester), Thomas Meunier (Borussia Dortmund), Yannick Carrasco (Atlético de Madrid), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund), Timothy Castagne (Leicester), Nacer Chadli (Istanbul Basaksehir)
Forward: Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Jeremy Doku (Rennes), Leandro Trossard (Brighton)
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