FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: Belgium call up two new players as injured Lukaku misses out

Belgium must do without injured striker Romelu Lukaku for their last two World Cup qualifiers this month with coach Roberto Martinez naming two uncapped players on Friday in his squad for the matches against Estonia and Wales.

Romelu Lukaku

Injured Lukaku to miss out last two World Cup qualifiers for Belgium this month.   -  Getty Images

Belgium must do without injured striker Romelu Lukaku for their last two World Cup qualifiers this month with coach Roberto Martinez naming two uncapped players on Friday in his squad for the matches against Estonia and Wales.

Belgium will ensure qualification for Qatar if it beats Estonia in Brussels on Nov. 13. They end their Group E campaign against Wales in Cardiff on Nov. 16.

Lukaku, who is Belgium's all-time top goal scorer with 68 goals in 101 appearances, suffered an ankle injury last month, playing in the Champions League for Chelsea against Malmo.

His understudy Michy Batshuayi is also injured, but Christian Benteke and Divock Origi return to the squad, and there is a first call-up for Dante Vanzeir, the top scorer of the Belgian league’s surprise leaders Union Saint Gilloise.

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French-based defender Wout Faes takes advantage of injuries to Sebastiaan Bornauw, and Zinho Vanheusden to win his first call-up.

“We’ve put ourselves in a great position. We are at home against Estonia, but we know they went away to Wales and got a good result,” Martinez said of the goalless draw in Cardiff in September.

“You don't expect to go into any game in international football and expect that it’s a given,” he told a news conference on Friday, batting away questions about using the two matches to experiment with player selection ahead of Qatar 2022.

“The only aspect that we are focusing on is to try to qualify,” Martinez added.

Belgium still tops the FIFA rankings despite a quarterfinal exit at Euro 2020 and fourth place at the Nations League last month.

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Squad:

Goalkeepers: Koen Casteels (VfL Wolfsburg), Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Simon Mignolet (Club Brugge), Matz Sels (Racing Strasbourg)

Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Al Duhail), Dedryck Boyata (Hertha Berlin), Timothy Castagne (Leicester City), Jason Denayer (Olympique Lyonnais), Wout Faes (Stade Reims), Thomas Meunier (Borussia Dortmund), Arthur Theate (Atalanta), Jan Vertonghen (Benfica)

Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Charles De Ketelaere (Club Brugge), Leander Dendocker (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Dennis Praet (Torino), Alexis Saelemaekers (AC Milan), Youri Tielemans (Leicester City), Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge), Axel Witsel (Borussia Dortmund)

Forwards: Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid), Divock Origi (Liverpool), Albert Sambi Lokoga (Arsenal), Leandro Trossard (Brighton & Hove Albion), Dante Vanzeir (Union Saint Gilloise).

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