(Reuters) - Dedryck Boyata said he is ready to step in for Vincent Kompany if Belgium’s battle-hardened defender fails to recover from his groin injury in time for their opening World Cup Group G game against Panama in Sochi on June 18.
Kompany, 32, was injured in a pre-tournament friendly against Portugal and did not train along with the rest of the team on Saturday.
“If I have the chance to play, of course I will be very happy,” said Celtic defender Boyata, who came on as a substitute for Kompany last Saturday and would be again expected to fill in if the Manchester City defender fails to regain fitness for the tournament.
“I know he (Kompany) has been working very hard,” Boyata told Sky Sports.
The injury is the latest in a long line of fitness problems for Kompany, who managed just 17 Premier League appearances for City last season. However, he told Belgian broadcaster RTBF he believes he will be fit in time.
“I am confident it will be okay,” he said. “I feel good and have often fought back.
“The goal to play at the World Cup is in my head and I try to achieve that.
But Belgium midfielder Kevin De Bruyne suggested Kompany may only be available for later games.
“He may not be there for the first games in Russia but the team can play the group stage without him,” he told reporters.
After their opener, Belgium face Tunisia on June 23 followed by a potential group decider against England five days later.
Reporting by Neil Robinson, editing by Pritha Sarkar