BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium coach Marc Wilmots was forced to leave out injured captain Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen, Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne from his squad for this month’s friendly against Portugal.
Bjorn Engels received a first call-up in place of Kompany, who suffered a calf injury while playing for Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Hazard’s younger brother Thorgan returns to the squad as cover for De Bruyne’s attacking position.
Wilmots told a press conference on Friday that Axel Witsel will captain the team, who top the FIFA rankings, as Kompany and vice captains Hazard and Vertonghen will all be absent. The match on March 29 in Brussels is a warm-up for both nations ahead of the European Championship which kicks off in France on June 10.
Squad: Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Jean-Francois Gillet (Mechelen), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool) Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic), Jason Denayer (Galatasary), Bjorn Engels (Club Bruges), Guillaume Gillet (Nantes), Nicolas Lombaerts (Zenit St Petersburg), Jordan Lukaku (Oostende), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona) Midfielders: Mousa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Radja Nainggolan (AS Roma), Axel Witsel (Zenit St Petersburg) Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Olympique de Marseille), Christian Benteke (Liverpool), Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid), Nacer Chadli (Tottenham Hotspur), Romelu Lukaku (Everton), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Divock Origi (Liverpool).
Reporting by Mark Gleeson, editing by Pritha Sarkar