In the latest Belgium news, coach Roberto Martinez has defended his decision to not call up Radja Nainggolan ahead of this summer’s World Cup.
The Roma midfielder has announced his international retirement after missing out on Martinez’s initial 28-man squad.
Nainggolan has not always enjoyed a solid relationship with Martinez after being dropped in the past. However, the majority of Belgium’s fans expected him to feature in Russia after he was recalled to the squad for the friendly with Saudi Arabia.
The 30-year-old has now retired after the squad was revealed on Monday and he claims he did everything he could for his country.
In a statement on social media he said: “Very reluctantly my international career comes to an end.
“I’ve always done everything I could to represent my country.”
Despite his comments, Martinez insists he stands by his decision after also dropping Divock Origi and Kevin Mirallas. He told reporters: “Radja Nainggolan is a top player. The reason is tactical,” said Martinez.
“In the past two years the team has worked in a specific manner. Other players had those roles.
“We know Radja has a very important role in his club and we cannot give him that role in our squad.”
Martinez will trim his squad down to 23 on June 4 and there are fitness doubts ahead of the tournament.
Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku asked to start the FA Cup final on the bench, while Michy Batshuayi is also in despite suffering an ankle injury in April.
Martinez admits that is why he has named a large squad to start with in case any of his players pick up an injury before their first game against Panama.
“Every player in the squad has got a different level of fatigue. That is why we will start the preparation with 28 players,” added Martinez.
Belgium remain favourites to win Group G ahead of England, Tunisia and Panama and they are 5/6 to finish top with bet365.