Roberto Martinez hints Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard could play for Belgium in Friday’s Euro 2020 quarter-final with Italy despite not returning to training after picking up injuries against Portugal
Roberto Martinez has refused to rule out Kevin De Bruyne or Eden Hazard as the clock ticks down to Friday’s quarter-final.
There are positive noises from the Belgium camp which suggest their star men could recover quicker than expected, after they picked up injuries against Portugal on Sunday.
Both travelled to Munich on Thursday but De Bruyne, who hurt an ankle, is thought to have a better chance of starting against Italy than Hazard, who has a hamstring problem.
Roberto Martinez refused to say whether Eden Hazard (middle) and Kevin de Bruyne (right) are fit for Belgium’s Euro 2020 clash with Italy
Martinez (left) says De Bruyne (middle) has not trained since an ankle injury against Portugal
‘They couldn’t train with the group yet,’ Martinez said on Thursday night. ‘But it’s been another 24 hours and it’s been positive.
‘Every day that goes by, we see an improvement. We know we are fighting against time. We will take until the last minute (to decide).
‘We are in tournament mode and by being with the team here, we are trying to get them fit as quickly as we can.
‘That’s not being arrogant. We’re just trying to see if we can get them fit for the next few games.
Hazard also came off against Portugal in the last-16 victory with a hamstring problem
‘It will be difficult in Eden’s case with a soft tissue injury, and maybe Kevin is a little bit different.’
Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel delivered a more upbeat bulletin. ‘They are better, so that’s really positive,’ said Witsel. ‘We don’t know if they’ll play, but it’s better for us if they’re on the pitch.’
The Italian media suspect Belgium are playing mind games, as they prepare for a mouthwatering tie between two teams who boast 100 per cent records at Euro 2020.
Martinez’s side face Roberto Mancini’s in-form Italy with a Euro 2020 semi-final spot at stake
Belgium are top of the FIFA rankings while Italy are on a record 31-game unbeaten run after having their fortunes revived by Roberto Mancini, who is surprisingly keen to see De Bruyne and Hazard line up against the Azzurri.
‘Fixtures such as these are nice because of the top players involved,’ said Mancini. ‘Belgium are a brilliant team and we are performing well, and for the spectators it would be great to see them at full strength.
‘Hazard and De Bruyne would cause us more problems because of that, but that’s what is great about football.’