Belgium coach Marc Wilmots kept Romelu Lukaku out of the starting lineup for Belgium’s final warm up game, but that didn’t stop the striker from falling prey to injury in the win over Tunisia.
Wilmots elected to start 19-year-old Divock Origi in Saturday’s friendly in Brussels, but with Belgium held scoreless after an hour, replaced him with star forward Lukaku. Dries Mertens gave Belgium with win with a goal in the 89th minute, but the triumph shortly turned to dismay. Lukaku limped off with an apparent ankle injury in the final moments of the match.
“For now it looks like a severe sprain, but of course there will be further tests tomorrow,” Wilmots said. “As it looks now, Romelu will be out for three or four days. Let’s hope it stays that way.”
Belgium will be crossing their fingers that the World Cup Injury Plague hasn’t touched their team once more. Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke ruptured his Achilles during training in April, ruling him out of the tournament. That leaves Lukaku as the only center forward with real experience (Origi has just two caps for his country).
While the Belgium midfield is bursting with talent, and the likes of Eden Hazard, Kevin Mirallas and Kevin De Bruyne can certainly score goals, Wilmots is not one to set up his side without a target man. And with Lukaku having already scored four goals in Belgium’s last two games, they’ll certainly want his presence up top.
Belgium’s first match is on Tuesday, June 17 against Algeria. Should tests reveal Lukaku’s injury to be a minor one, he should be set to play the opener. If not, their World Cup hopes may plummet to the ground.
CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Chris Coleman says he chose to remain as Wales manager despite interest from Premier League side Hull because he’s in a job that is “close to his heart.”
The Football Association of Wales rejected an approach for Coleman from Hull this month, with the Welshman deciding to stay on rather than resigning.
Coleman, who guided Wales to the European Championship semifinals against the odds, said on Wednesday that “if someone comes and it’s the Premier League, anybody, you kind of look at it sideways. Of course.”
But, Coleman added, managing your country “comes around once, if you’re lucky.”
Coleman has made no secret of his desire to manage in club football in the future, but says “what I’ve got here is something very special and close to my heart.”
Who’s going to join Porto, Monaco, Legia Warsaw, Ludogorets Razgrad and Celtic as playoff teams to join the UEFA Champions League group stage?
The biggest names of Wednesday’s slate are cruising after their first legs, with Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach putting five and three goals on the board, respectively.
[ MORE: Champions League Tues. roundup ]
Could the match be Joe Hart‘s last for City? The longtime backstop gets the call with the transfer window a week away.
In the other three cases, things are wide open. Rostov plays Ajax, Red Bull Salzburg faces Dinamo Zagreb, and APOEL lines up Copenhagen.
Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League slate — FOLLOW LIVE
Borussia Monchengladbach (3) vs. (1) BSC Young Boys
Rostov (1) vs. (1) Ajax
Red Bull Salzburg (1) vs. (1) Dinamo Zagreb
APOEL (0) vs. (1) Copenhagen
Manchester City (5) vs. Steaua Bucuresti (0)
The newly-renamed EFL Cup, formerly the League Cup, rolls on Wednesday with four more matches ahead of the evening’s third-round draw.
American attacker Lynden Gooch starts for Sunderland, while Tim Ream starts for Fulham and Luca de la Torre is on the Cottagers’ bench. Emerson Hyndman is on the bench for Bournemouth.
Tuesday’s action saw Premier League sides West Brom and Watford excused from the tournament.
Wednesday’s EFL Cup schedule — FOLLOW LIVE
Accrington Stanley vs. Burnley
Fulham vs. Middlesbrough
Morecambe vs. Bournemouth
Sunderland vs. Shrewsbury Town
Robbie Keane is ending a big chapter in his career.
Fear not, Galaxy fans, the 36-year-old living L.A. legend isn’t calling it quits on club soccer, but Keane is done with representing the Republic of Ireland.
Keane will play one more game for the Boys in Green, a friendly against Oman next week, before leaving the Republic to qualify for the World Cup without him.
[ MORE: Yedlin, Newcastle make it official ]
In a sprawling and understandably emotional — if not moving — statement, Keane says he isn’t going to stop playing for his club anytime soon, and that he hardly dreamed he’d get to this point.
No player has been capped (145) or scored (67) as many times for Ireland than Keane.