Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku faces race against time ahead of World Cup

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has said striker Romelu Lukaku must be fit enough to play in the group stage at the World Cup or he will not be selected.

Martinez will name his squad for Qatar on Thursday and is leaving it as late as possible to make a decision on the Inter Milan forward, who had been sidelined with a hamstring injury and is working his way back to fitness.

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“The decision will be made just before we announce the list,” Martinez said, as quoted by L’Equipe.

“It will relate to the three first-round matches. If he is fit to participate in one of those, he is a player we want in our team. If he cannot, he will not be selected.”

Lukaku is undergoing daily tests with Belgium team doctors having made two substitute appearances for Inter since August.

Belgium open their campaign against Canada on Nov. 23, before meeting Morocco four days later and Croatia on Dec. 1.

“We are seeing signs of improvement, but we will wait until just before the announcement to give us more time,” Martinez added.

“We have to assess the improvement to help estimate the timeline for his recovery. If he’s fit by Dec. 1, he’ll be with us.”