Belgium suffer Vertonghen injury blow for Euro 2016

Lille (France) (AFP) – Belgium have been dealt a major blow ahead of their Euro 2016 quarter-final against Wales after defender Jan Vertonghen was ruled out of the rest of the tournament with an ankle injury.

The Tottenham Hotspur defender, 29, tore ankle ligaments in training on Thursday, coach Marc Wilmots said, adding that he will be out for between “six and eight weeks”.

The injury will therefore also come as a big blow to his club ahead of the next Premier League season.

“He’s an outstanding performer. So if he misses the game, it’s a big loss for Belgium. But they’ve got so much talent,” Wales coach Chris Coleman said earlier at a press conference in Lille, where Friday’s match will be played.

There was better news for Belgium on Thursday as captain Eden Hazard returned to training for the first time since Sunday’s 4-0 win over Hungary. He had been struggling with a minor groin problem.

Losing Vertonghen, however, adds to Wilmots’ selection problems in defence, with centre-back Thomas Vermaelen already having been ruled out of the game due to suspension.

Jason Denayer of Manchester City is expected to deputise for Vermaelen while Vertonghen, who has played at left-back for his country at Euro 2016, is likely to be replaced by Jordan Lukaku, the younger brother of striker Romelu.

“We know Vermaelen’s suspended, of course. But we can’t look past ourselves. No disrespect to Belgium or any opposition, but we only ever concentrate on ourselves,” added Coleman.

Belgium had already lost captain Vincent Kompany and fellow defenders Nicolas Lombaerts and Dedryck Boyata to injury before the start of the tournament.

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