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COUNTDOWN TO QATAR: Belgium’s Martinez ready to drop Lukaku

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has said that Romelu Lukaku needs to be fit enough to play in the group phase at the Qatar 2022 World Cup for him to be selected.

The Inter Milan striker has struggled with injuries this season, making only five appearances in all competitions for the Italian side since rejoining on loan from Chelsea in the summer.

The World Cup is scheduled to begin on November 20 and end on December 18.

Martinez will name his squad for the tournament tomorrow and has decided to leave it as late as possible to make a decision on Lukaku, who is Belgium’s all-time top scorer.

“The decision will be made just before we announce the list,” Martinez told L’Equipe.

“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 selected.”

Lukaku is undergoing daily tests with Belgium team doctors as he battles to recover from a hamstring strain, which occured two games into his return from an earlier injury.

Belgium begin their World Cup campaign against Canada on November 23, before meeting Morocco four days later and Croatia on December 1.

“We are seeing signs of improvement, but we will wait until just before the announcement to give us more time,” Martinez added.

“We have to assess the improvement to help estimate the timeline for his recovery. If he’s fit by December 1, he’ll be with us.”

Lukaku, 29, is very important in the Belgium set-up and has scored 68 goals in 102 appearances since his debut in 2010.

He sustained his latest injury during Inter Milan’s 3-0 Serie A victory over Sampdoria on October 29.

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