- Roberto Martinez is prepared to risk Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen
- Kompany and Vermaelen have, however, been ruled out of playing Panama
- Both are hoping to be fit Belgium’s other games of the World Cup in Group G
Roberto Martinez has taken a gamble on the World Cup fitness of injured defenders Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen.
Martinez dismissed stand-by defender Laurent Ciman on Saturday even though Kompany and Vermaelen have been ruled out of Belgium’s Group G opener against Panama in Sochi on Monday.
Vermaelen hopes to be fit for the second game against Tunisia on Saturday and Kompany is aiming for the clash with England on Thursday week but both will lack match practice.
The risk is an area I don’t want to go into,’ said the Belgium boss. ‘Any player can get injured in any moment. We’re not trying to read the future.’
Vermaelen who has not played since a hamstring injury in mid-May has stayed in Moscow to work on his fitness.
Kompany, who picked up a groin injury in a friendly against Portugal, earlier this month, has travelled with the squad to Sochi.
Martinez added: ‘Vincent has been in this situation for a long time and we have taken a decision to use his know-how and experience around the group.
‘We are confident he will be available for the third game of the group phase.
‘Thomas could be fit for the next two group games and he has shown through the last two years he doesn’t need a few games to be match-fit.’
Belgium are expected to take on Panama with Celtic’s Dedryck Boyata in the centre of a back-three also featuring Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen.
The only specialist cover on the bench will be Leander Dendoncker of Anderlecht.