The health of Belgium’s defense has been one of the major talking points ahead to the team’s Tuesday Round of 16 match against the United States. Unfortunately for Red Devils’ fans, one of the fitness doubts that team carried out of its World Cup group stage has been resolved in the negative. Thomas Vermaelen, a potential starter at left back, has been ruled out, head coach Marc Wilmots confirmed on Monday.
While the Belgium boss said the veteran defender should be ready if his team makes the quarterfinals, the defender’s hamstring will keep him out of tomorrow’s match in Salvador. Through the tournament’s first 270 minutes, Vermaelen’s only been able to play 45, toughing out the first half against Russia after incurring his injury warming up for his team’s second match.
On Monday, Wilmots confirmed his vice-captain and been ruled out. Here’s the Belgian head coach, also speaking asked about midfielder Marouane Fellaini, from FIFA.com:
“Thomas … has not enough time to be fit by tomorrow. He will be fit if we make the quarterfinals. He will return to full squad training in a day or two. Marouane is fine, no problem.”
Vermaelen wasn’t the only Belgian injury doubt coming off the team’s last match, but as Wilmots confirmed in the same press conference, little about captain Vincent Kompany’s status has changed since he was held out on Thursday against South Korea:
“I don’t know about Vincent and whether he will be fit,” said [Wilmots]. “We will see how it evolves.
That leaves U.S. fans in the awkward position of rooting for an injury, but this is Vincent Kompany we’re talking about. The man’s always in the conversation as one of the best central defenders in the world. If he can’t go on Tuesday, U.S. fans stand a better chance of seeing their team reach its third quarterfinal.
Not that Kompany’s replacements would be bums. If the Manchester City star is out, we’ll likely see Daniel Van Buyten and Nicolas Lombaerts in the middle. Out wide, Jan Vertonghen will get the call on the left, while Toby Alderweireld