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Nainggolan in from the cold for Belgium friendlies


Brussels (AFP) – Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan was named in Belgium’s squad for upcoming friendlies on Friday after missing the Red Devils’ final four World Cup qualifiers.

Coach Roberto Martinez in September had explained his decision to leave Nainggolan out of his last two squads was for “tactical reasons” and because he wanted to “work with continuity”.

The Belgian press put the absence down to personal problems between manager and player.

Martinez said he had named the Antwerp-born Serie A star as he was looking to field “the best team possible” against Mexico in Brussels on November 10 followed by Japan in Bruges four days later.

The former Everton boss also called up Adnan Januzaj, missing from the national side since 2015.

Notable absentees due to injury were Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld, Marouane Fellaini and Christian Benteke.

Belgium became the first team from Europe to secure their ticket to Russia 2018 when Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku’s goal earned them a 2-1 win against Greece in September.

Belgium squad

Goalkeepers: Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg/GER), Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea/ENG), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool/ENG), Matz Sels (Anderlecht)

Defenders: Dedryck Boyata (Celtic/SCO), Laurent Ciman (Montreal Impact/CAN), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht), Christian Kabasele (Watford/ENG), Jordan Lukaku (Lazio/ITA), Thomas Meunier (Paris SG/FRA), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona/ESP), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham/ENG)

Midfielders: Nacer Chadli (West Brom/ENG), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City/ENG), Steven Defour (Burnley/ENG), Mousa Dembélé (Tottenham/ENG), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad/ESP), Radja Nainggolan (AS Roma/ITA), Youri Tielemans (Monaco/FRA), Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian/CHN)

Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea/ENG), Laurent Depoitre (Huddersfield Town/ENG), Eden Hazard (Chelsea/ENG), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Moenchengladbach/GER), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United/ENG), Dries Mertens (Napoli/ITA), Kevin Mirallas (Everton/ENG), Divock Origi (Wolfsburg/GER)

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