SAMARA, Russia, June 16 (Reuters) - Belgium have sent standby defender Laurent Ciman home, showing confidence in the fitness of key defenders Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen ahead of their World Cup opener on Monday.
Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez will now be hoping the veteran pair do not suffer a recurrence of the injuries that have disrupted their World Cup preparation.
Captain Kompany injured his groin in a pre-tournament friendly against Portugal, while Barcelona’s Vermaelen has been carrying a hamstring injury he suffered last month.
Los Angeles FC defender Ciman had been training with the Belgian side in Russia in case Kompany or Vermaelen failed fitness tests.
Martinez can also call upon the Tottenham Hotspur pair of Jan Vertonghan and Toby Alderweireld, as well as Celtic’s Dedryck Boyata, in central defence.
Belgium begin their Group G campaign against Panama in Sochi. (Reporting by Jack Tarrant Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)