No more speculation: Romelu Lukaku is not fit, Canadian star player Alphonso Davies is

The Canadians were wary. Every day journalists asked us if Romelu Lukaku is really out for the World Cup opener. That there were no signals to suspect the opposite, we would answer, but they did not believe that. Until Roberto Martinez’s press conference, Canada took into account a Belgium with Lukaku.

Their theory was fueled by the few news reports about Lukaku that had made the papers over the past week. There was confirmation on Monday that the striker would remain with the squad anyway, suggesting he was on track to play in the group stages anyway. But what really fueled Canadian speculation was Lukaku’s presence during the practice session in Kuwait. He did this after the quarters of the training open to the media – an employee of the Kuwaiti host club made a video and posted it on social media. As a result, the Canadians suspected that the Belgian medical staff – which includes several confidants of Lukaku with Lieven Maesschalck and Kristof Sas – was secretly preparing the record top scorer.

Fit against Morocco?

Martinez, however, made no bones about it: “There are 25 fit players, Romelu will not be among them. We are happy with the progress he is making. If I follow the medical advice, he will be fit for the third group match (against Croatia, ed.). If I listen to him, there is a chance that he will be ready for the second match.” Maybe Morocco, but certainly not Canada.

© REUTERS

It was what the press had told Canadians ad nauseam. Although external doctors without specific information have never ruled out an early return in the first World Cup match, that optimism was never shared within the football association. Don’t forget that Big Roman has been struggling with the hamstring since late August. A month ago he relapsed after a comeback with a goal in the Champions League against Viktoria Plzen. Lukaku has not played since October 29.

The risk is simply too great. A new “set back”, as Martinez would say, must be avoided, otherwise Lukaku’s World Cup will be over before it even starts.

Always Davies

Canada also has its hamstring file. Alphonso Davies, their star player, only arrived in Doha late on Friday night after a rehab at Bayern Munich. His state of health has dominated media engagements since the Canadians settled in Qatar. It’s always about Davies and his injury.

There has also been confusion in recent days. Davies himself stated in an interview this weekend that he would “definitely play against Belgium”, while his national coach John Herdman had been very careful twelve hours earlier. When Davies threw the muscles loose with a painful grimace during the warm-up on Monday, there was panic again. It wouldn’t… would it? Herdman reassured the nation 24 hours before kick-off against Belgium: “Alphonso is ready. I’ve seen him fly.” The Red Devils have been warned.

Open national coaches

The honesty of both national coaches was astonishing. Herdman, who said his team’s inexperience is “an advantage and a disadvantage”, is known as a trainer who is not averse to games. All tricks to win are allowed. Reportedly, he was not happy when Davies said he could play this weekend. He would have preferred to keep the mystery alive longer. Martinez was also not always open in his communication in the past.

The Qatari sun apparently loosens them up. Not Lukaku, but Davies. Finally done speculating.

© The Canadian Press/PA Images

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