(Reuters) - Kevin De Bruyne will miss Belgium’s next Euro 2020 qualifiers but Eden Hazard is back as they look to keep up their 100% record in Group I and secure their place in the finals.
Midfielder De Bruyne was left out of the 28-man squad named by coach Roberto Martinez on Friday due to a groin injury picked up playing for Manchester City at Everton last weekend.
But captain Hazard, who missed last month’s qualifiers against San Marino and Scotland, returns along with his brother Thorgan, Axel Witsel and Timothy Castagne for matches at home to San Marino on Oct. 10 and in Kazakhstan three days later.
Hazard and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois have not shown their best form for Real Madrid recently but this is no cause for concern, Martinez told a news conference in Antwerp on Friday.
“When you play at the best clubs in the world, there will be periods of difficulty. For sure Thibaut and Eden can overcome these difficulties, they are ready for the challenge. This international break can be a positive for them and they can return to their club fresher and stronger,” he said.
There was a recall to the squad for the first time in five years for the uncapped Maxime Lestienne after five goals in eight league matches for Standard Liege in the Belgian league.
Belgium, who have won all six of their group games, will qualify if they beat bottom-placed San Marino.
Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Simon Mignolet (Club Bruges), Matz Sels (Racing Strasbourg), Hendrik Van Crombrugge (Anderlecht)
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur), Dedryck Boyata (Hertha Berlin), Timothy Castagne (Atalanta), Leander Dendoncker (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Brandon Mechele (Club Bruges), Thomas Vermaelen (Vissel Kobe), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur), Thomas Meunier (Paris St Germain)
Midfielders: Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang), Nacer Chadli (Anderlecht), Dennis Praet (Leicester City), Maxime Lestienne (Standard Liege), Youri Tielemans (Leicester City), Hans Vanaken (Club Bruges), Yari Verschaeren (Anderlecht), Axel Witsel (Borussia Dortmund)
Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad), Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Divock Origi (Liverpool).
Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ed Osmond