Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has included Vincent Kompany in his final 23-man World Cup squad despite a groin injury – but Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke has been left out.
Kompany, who missed Euro 2016 due to injury, had seen his participation in Russia put into doubt when he limped out of Saturday’s friendly draw with Portugal.
The veteran Manchester City skipper over-stretched in an attempt to make a tackle and was immediately replaced during he goalless draw.
But Martinez has elected to take the 32-year-old and is hopeful that he will be good to go when the competition gets underway, despite admitting that uncertainty will continue to surround Kompany’s fitness for the next 7-10 days.
“We are going to take the time we get for Kompany, which is up to the day before our first match,” said Martinez, who has kept Laurent Ciman with the squad on stand by. “Kompany has been performing strongly in the training camp and his leadership is essential for us.
“We want to give him every opportunity to be there. It is a World Cup, not a friendly international, so we take this exceptional decision.
“The scan is not going to be decisive, we still need seven to ten days to see if he is ready.
“Kompany’s strength is that he has a real winning mentality, which we have seen again, going from deep disappointment during the match to determined work yesterday with the physios.”
“I have faith in our medical staff and we will work together to make this a success. If Vincent is not fit on June 17, he will not be there, but we have to use that period, we give him time.”
Misfiring Palace striker Benteke, who scored just two league goals in 2017-18, has missed out however.
Chelsea forward Michy Batshuayi has been preferred following his fine end-of-season form at Borussia Dortmund.
“He did everything during this camp, leaving him at home was the hardest decision,” said Martinez of the Palace star’s omission.
“I choose the balance in the team, so I only take two deep strikers.”
Tottenham trio Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele and Toby Alderweireld have all been included. Eden Hazard, Marouane Fellaini, Simon Mignolet and Romelu Lukaku are also included, while the major surprise is West Brom’s Nacer Chadli.
The 28-year-old made just five Premier League appearances for the relegated-Baggies, totalling just 214 minutes, and hasn’t started a game since October 21.
Full Belgium squad
Goalkeepers: Koen Casteels, Thibaut Courtois, Simon Mignolet
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld, Dedryck Boyata, Vincent Kompany, Thomas Meunier, Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Vertonghen
Midfielders: Yannick Carrasco, Nacer Chadli, Leander Dendoncker, Kevin de Bruyne, Mousa Dembele, Marouane Fellaini, Eden Hazard, Thorgan Hazard, Adnan Januzaj, Youri Tielemans, Axel Witsel
Forwards: Michy Batshuayi, Dries Mertens, Romelu Lukaku