Belgium call up Lestienne, Thorgan Hazard and Casteels for USA/Serbia
Belgian national team coach Marc Wilmots has called up young trio Koen Casteels, Maxime Lestienne and Thorgan Hazard for the first time ahead of the upcoming internationals against the United States and Serbia.
The 28-man squad will travel to the USA for a week-long training camp, culminating in a friendly international against the national side in Cleveland on 29 May. They then face Serbia in Brussels in a crucial World Cup qualifier on 7 June.
Casteels, Lestienne and Hazard have all been promoted from the under-21 side. Casteels has had limited first team opportunities since leaving Racing Genk for Hoffenheim but has been linked with a move to Club Brugge. He will eventually join up with the u21 squad in France. Lestienne, who can play on either flank has been arguably the best player in the Jupiler Pro League this season with Club, recently scoring some crucial goals to fire his side back into title contention.
Thorgan Hazard has blossomed under the tutelage of Francky Dury at fellow title contenders Zulte Waregem and played his part in their dramatic comeback against Lokeren last week by setting up the equaliser for Junior Malanda. His preferred role is behind the striker but he is also adept at cutting in onto his right foot and as such prefers the left flank to the right.
Wilmots has not been able to find a place for the likes of Cagliari’s Radja Nainggolan or Anderlecht’s Silvio Proto, who was yesterday named as Goalkeeper of the Year in Belgium for the third time.
Daniel Van Buyten, Nicolas Lombaerts, Axel Witsel, Nacer Chadli and Thibaut Courtois won’t be in the USA but are available for the Serbia match.
Wilmots: I accepted the USA’s invitation right away as we need to get together and we needed a match before the Serbia game. #usabel
— BeNeFoot (@BeNeFoot) May 16, 2013
Wilmots to RTBF: We’ll have a very good working environment. It will also allow us to see how the players travel. #usabel
— BeNeFoot (@BeNeFoot) May 16, 2013
Belgium recently moved to 15th in the FIFA rankings – their best ever ranking since the system was introduced back in the early 1990s – but Wilmots will only be satisfied with World Cup qualification. They are currently top of Group A on goal difference ahead of Croatia with four games to go.
Johan Walem has also named a very strong squad for the Toulon tournament, which runs from 28 May to 8 June. Belgium have been drawn in a tough group against holders Mexico, Portugal, Brazil and Nigeria.
Belgium squad to face USA/Serbia:
Goalkeepers: Koen Casteels (Hoffenheim), Thibaut Courtois (Atletico Madrid), Jean-François Gillet (Torino), Simon Mignolet (Sunderland).
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Ajax), Laurent Ciman (Standard Liège), Guillaume Gillet (Anderlecht), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Nicolas Lombaerts (Zenit), Sébastien Pocognoli (Hannover 96), Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal), Daniel Van Buyten (Bayern München), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham).
Midfielders: Nacer Chadli (FC Twente), Steven Defour (FC Porto), Mousa Dembélé (Tottenham), Marouane Fellaini (Everton), Thorgan Hazard (Zulte Waregem), Timmy Simons (1. FC Nürnberg), Axel Witsel (Zenit).
Attackers: Christian Benteke (Aston Villa), Kevin De Bruyne (Werder Bremen), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Maxime Lestienne (Club Brugge), Romelu Lukaku (West Bromwich Albion), Dries Mertens (PSV), Kevin Mirallas (Everton), Jelle Vossen (KRC Genk).
Belgium u21 squad for the Toulon tournament:
Goalkeepers: Koen Casteels ( Hoffenheim), Theo Defourny (FC Rouen), Thomas Kaminski (RSC Anderlecht), Matz Sels (K. Lierse SK)
Defenders: Dino Arslanagic (Standard Liège), Laurens De Bock, Brandon Mechele (Club Brugge), Bruno Godeau, Bryan Verboom (Zulte Waregem), Michaël Heylen, Jordan Lukaku (RSC Anderlecht), Marnick Vermijl (Manchester United), Jonathan Vervoort (FC Eindhoven)
Midfielders: Junior Malanda (Zulte Waregem), Lamisha Musonda (Chelsea), Brice Ntambwe (RAEC Mons), Dennis Praet (Anderlecht), Hannes Van Der Bruggen (KAA Gent)
Attackers: Zakaria Bakkali (PSV), Massimo Bruno (Anderlecht), Dylan De Belder (RAEC Mons) Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco (AS Monaco) Paul-José Mpoku (Standard Liège), Igor Vetokele (FC København)