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Martinez will not rush into a call over injured pair


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Waiting game: Belgium manager Roberto Martinez hopes Kevin De Bruyne will be fit. Credit: Jose Manuel Vidal - Pool/Getty Images

Waiting game: Belgium manager Roberto Martinez hopes Kevin De Bruyne will be fit. Credit: Jose Manuel Vidal - Pool/Getty Images

Getty Images

Waiting game: Belgium manager Roberto Martinez hopes Kevin De Bruyne will be fit. Credit: Jose Manuel Vidal - Pool/Getty Images

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez will give Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard until the last minute to prove their fitness ahead of tonight’s Euro 2020 quarter-final clash with Italy.

Manchester City star De Bruyne suffered an ankle injury in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Portugal, during which Real Madrid’s Hazard also limped off with a muscle problem, and neither was able to train with the rest of the squad yesterday morning.

However, Martinez said: “We all know that we are fighting against time, but we’re going to take until the last minute to make the decision.

“Every day that goes by, every time they can sleep and get three meals and get some treatment, we see an improvement, and then we’ll see tomorrow if they can be involved or not. Unfortunately at the moment, we cannot make a decision.

“Obviously it will be difficult — a soft tissue injury in Eden’s case, maybe is difficult for a game (so soon) and for Kevin, having a ligament problem maybe is a bit different.

“But it’s more a medical decision. At the moment, it’s not a football decision; tomorrow it will become a medical decision in the afternoon and then we’ll make a football decision after that.”

Martinez could do with having all his most potent weapons available for a clash with an Italian side which is unbeaten in 31 matches, while both teams are bidding to become the first to win 15 consecutive European Championship games since the start of qualification.

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Belgium will be looking to striker Romelu Lukaku to continue his superb goalscoring form but Italy skipper Giorgio Chiellini insists he will not be losing any sleep over the prospect of going head-to-head with the Inter Milan hitman.

The 36-year-old Juventus defender and his team-mates face the task of stopping the man whose goals helped to hand Inter a first Serie A title in 11 years last season if they are to emerge victorious.

Chiellini, who is back in contention after missing the final Group A win over Wales and the last-16 win against Austria through injury, said: “We have got a lot of respect for Lukaku because he had a great season for Inter and all campaign long, we have witnessed just what a match-winner and a big player he’s become.

“But it would be doing a disservice to Belgium if you were simply to say that Belgium were all about Romelu Lukaku because they’ve got quality players all over the pitch.

Northern Ireland international Daniel Ballard has signed for Millwall on a season long loan from Arsenal.

The 21-year-old said: “It’s an honour to be able to represent this club, I can’t wait to get going.

“I’ve seen all of the lads and met the manager, the buzz around here is good and the atmosphere seems nice, I’m looking forward to it.”


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