Euro 2020: Belgium coach Roberto Martinez includes Axel Witsel in squad despite midfielder's lack of match fitness

·2 min read

Brussels: Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said his target was to lift the trophy as he named a 26-strong squad for Euro 2020 on Monday.

Former Everton boss Martinez however said he felt England would be favourites for the tournament but was planning to scupper Gareth Southgate's men as was the case in the 2018 World Cup's third-place play off.

"We are stronger than we were at the last World Cup," Martinez told television channel RTBF.

"Many of our players have more experience at the top level now.

"England have a superb generation of young players and will have home advantage for most of their matches especially if there are fans," Martinez added.

Axel Witsel has been included in the squad even though he underwent an operation on his Achilles tendon in January and resumed running just a few days ago, leaving his availability for the 11 June - 11 July tournament in doubt.

"With a squad extended to 26 (instead of 23), I can take this risk (on Witsel), he's a unique player," said Martinez.

The squad, which also includes a stand-by list of 11 players, must be officially declared to UEFA by 1 June at the latest.

Belgium, the world's top-ranked side, have been drawn in Group B and will play Russia on 12 June, Denmark five days later and Finland on 21 June.

Belgium squad

Goalkeepers (3): Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid/ESP), Simon Mignolet (Club Brugge), Matz Sels (Strasbourg/FRA)

Defenders (7): Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham/ENG), Dedryck Boyata (Hertha Berlin/GER), Jason Denayer (Lyon/FRA), Jan Vertonghen (Benfica/POR), Thomas Vermaelen (Vissel Kobe/JPN), Timothy Castagne (Leicester/ENG), Thomas Meunier (Borussia Dortmund/GER)

Midfielders (9): Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Nacer Chadli (Istanbul Basaksehir/TUR), Leander Dendoncker (Wolves/ENG), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City/ENG), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Dennis Praet (Leicester/ENG), Youri Tielemans (Leicester/ENG), Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge), Axel Witsel (Borussia Dortmund/GER)

Forwards (7): Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace/ENG), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace/ENG), Jeremy Doku (Rennes/FRA), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid/ESP), Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan/ITA), Dries Mertens (Napoli/ITA), Leandro Trossard (Brighton/ENG)

Stand-by list (11): Thomas Kaminski (Blackburn/ENG), Alexis Saelemaekers (AC Milan/ITA), Albert Sambi Lokonga (Anderlecht), Bryan Heynen (Genk), Thomas Foket (Reims/FRA), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad/ESP), Brandon Mechele (Club Brugge), Jordan Lukaku (Antwerp), Zinho Vanheusden (Standard Liege), Yari Verschaeren (Anderlecht), Charles De Ketelaere (Club Brugge)

Also See: Euro 2020: French-born Aymeric Laporte set to represent Spain in continental showpiece event

Euro 2020: Germany coach Joachim Loew reportedly phones Thomas Muller, likely to include exiled forward in squad

Euro 2020: Teams hit by coronavirus to get 48-hour window to get replacements, announces UEFA

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