Martinez to make last-minute decision on Lukaku's World Cup selection

By Sports Desk November 08, 2022

Roberto Martinez will make a last-minute decision on whether to include injured Inter striker Romelu Lukaku in Belgium's World Cup squad.

Lukaku has been plagued by injuries since returning to Inter from Chelsea on a season-long loan in June, featuring in only three of their 19 matches this term.

The 29-year-old made his return from a thigh problem with substitute appearances against Viktoria Plzen and Sampdoria late last month, but he has since suffered a setback.

Simone Inzaghi confirmed on Saturday that Lukaku will not play for Inter again before the World Cup, which begins for Belgium against Egypt on November 23.

The Red Devils then face Canada on November 27 and Morocco four days later, and Martinez is hoping the striker will at least be available for the last of those matches.

Ahead of announcing his 26-man squad on Thursday, Martinez told L'Equipe: "The decision will be made just before we announce the list.

"It will relate to the three first-round matches. If he is fit to participate in one of those, he is a player we want in our team. If he cannot, he will not be retained."

Lukaku is Belgium's all-time leading scorer with 68 goals in 102 caps, including five goals in four matches during his side's successful qualifying campaign for Qatar 2022.

However, the Chelsea loanee's fitness remains a big concern for Martinez, who is heading into his third major tournament as Belgium boss.

"The management of the muscle injury is very personal," he said. "We are seeing signs of improvement, but we will wait until just before the announcement to give us more time.

"We have to assess the improvement in his tissues to help estimate the timeline for his recovery. If he's fit by December 1, he'll be with us."

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