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.