Belgium left behind captain Eden Hazard and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois when they travelled to Wales for their last Group E qualifier for the 2022 World Cup, coach Roberto Martinez said on Monday. Belgium booked a place at next year’s finals with a 3-1 home win over Estonia on Saturday, while Wales are looking to secure a playoff spot by finishing second in the group. Martinez said he was planning to carry out some experiments in the game in Cardiff. “It was planned that Eden would play 60 minutes of the qualifier against Estonia and then be allowed to return to Real Madrid. It is because of his lack of matches at his club and his fitness,” Martinez said at a news conference on Monday.
Courtois has a minor back injury, the coach added, which also threatened his participation last Saturday.
“It was touch and go to get him onto the park for that game and the plan was that Koen Casteels would play against Wales.”
Centre back Jason Denayer has also withdrawn after pulling out of Monday’s training with a knee injury.