Lukaku to miss Belgium’s World Cup opener, Hazard to start

Nov 21, 2022, 5:27 PM | Updated: Nov 22, 2022, 7:39 am
Eden Hazard, right, and Romelu Lukaku of Belgium's national soccer team arrive with teammates at Ha...

Eden Hazard, right, and Romelu Lukaku of Belgium's national soccer team arrive with teammates at Hamad International airport in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 ahead of the upcoming World Cup. Belgium will play the first match in the World Cup against Canada on Nov. 23. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

              Romelu Lukaku of Belgium's national soccer team arrives with teammates at Hamad International airport in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 ahead of the upcoming World Cup. Belgium will play the first match in the World Cup against Canada on Nov. 23. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
            
              Romelu Lukaku of the Belgian national soccer team walks on the tarmac before departing for Kuwait at the airport in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. The Belgian team departs to Kuwait where they will play a friendly match on Friday against Egypt and then fly onto Qatar to participate in the World Cup. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
            
              Eden Hazard, right, and Romelu Lukaku of Belgium's national soccer team arrive with teammates at Hamad International airport in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 ahead of the upcoming World Cup. Belgium will play the first match in the World Cup against Canada on Nov. 23. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku will miss his nation’s World Cup opener against Canada on Wednesday night and also could be sidelined for the second match against Morocco.

Lukaku, 29, hasn’t appeared in a match since Oct. 29 because of a left thigh injury and hasn’t played 90 minutes since Inter Milan’s Serie A opener against Lecce on Aug. 13.

“We’re very happy the way that he is progressing. He had a very good session yesterday, not with a group, but is progressing in a steady way,” Belgium coach Roberto Martínez said Tuesday. “We haven’t got a timeline.

“I wouldn’t be able to tell if he’s going to be the second game or the third game,” he said. “If I follow the medical advice, at this point it would be the third game. If I follow how the player feels, probably we’ve got a chance for the second game.”

Captain Eden Hazard will start despite seeing diminished playing time at Real Madrid this season. The 31-year-old has made just two starts — in La Liga on Sept. 11 and in the Champions League on Oct. 11.

“It’s been a tough situation in terms of the playing minutes,” Martínez said. “We are a better team when Eden Hazard is in our dressing room, that’s for sure.”

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