Belgium head coach Marc Wilmots has named a 24-man World Cup squad containing no less than 12 Premier League-based players, including Manchester United starlet Adnan Januzaj. The 19-year old only committed himself to Belgium last month after being linked with a number of countries with which he qualified to play for, but the attacker will now represent the country of his birth and is one of a number of exciting young players named in Wilmots’ squad.
Januzaj is still to make his first appearance for Belgium, but the youngster has shown throughout this season that he is perhaps one of the most exciting talents to come out of the Premier League in recent years. While Belgium aren’t expected to rely on the teenager as much as he was by United this season, Janujaz could be one of those players capable of coming off the bench and making a real difference in games.
Joining Januzaj in this squad is his Manchester United team-mate Marouane Fellaini, Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany, Chelsea trio Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Thibaut, Tottenham’s Mousa Dembele, Nacer Chadli and Jan Vertonghen, Everton forward Kevin Mirallas, Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen and Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
The most notable omission from the squad is that of Club Brugge midfielder Timmy Simons, who misses out despite being just seven appearances short of 100 Belgium caps. With Koen Casteels still struggling with injury, Wilmots has included Silvio Proto as a fourth goalkeeper, although the Belgium boss will cut one of the two keepers from the squad before the group sets off for Brazil.
Following the news that Christian Benteke will miss this summer’s tournament through injury, 19-year-old Lille striker Divock Origi has been named as the Aston Villa star’s replacement. While Benteke’s absence will no doubt be missed, there is still a great deal of attacking talent at Wilmots disposal and it’s no surprise to see the Belgians heavy favourites in the World Cup to top a Group H containing Russia, South Korea and Algeria.