Kevin De Bruyne will not play for Belgium in the opening group match against Russia at the European Championships on Saturday, because he is still following an individual training program after a fracture of the nose and eye.
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said on Friday that he expects the Manchester City midfielder to join the full training session with the team when the players return to their training camp in Tubize, near Brussels, after the match against Russia in St. Petersburg.
“The next two days will be really important, just to get back to him so he can really move freely and start exercising before he can come to the group,” Martinez told De Bruyne, who was recently elected Premier League player of the season for the second consecutive year.
De Bruyne only contacted the team on Monday after undergoing minor surgery after injuries sustained during City’s loss to Chelsea in the Champions League final on May 29.
Belgium’s second Group B match is against Denmark in Copenhagen on Thursday, when Martinez expects De Bruyne to play a role.
Another key Belgian player who is missing against Russia will be defensive midfielder Axel Witsel, who was surprisingly included in Euro 2020, although he missed the last four months of the club season with Borussia Dortmund due to a torn Achilles tendon injury.
Martinez said Witsel, who had not played in Belgium’s warm-up games before the tournament, had “progressed well” and trained with the full squad.
“I don’t expect Axel to need much more work with the band,” Martinez said.