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Sunday 25 September 2016

Wilmots confident Hazard fit and able

Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard

Belgium playmaker Eden Hazard is expected to be fit for his country's Euro 2016 Group E opener against Italy tonight.

The 25-year-old Chelsea winger, who is captaining his country in the absence of injured Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany, suffered a foot complaint in training on Friday.

However, manager Marc Wilmots is confident the problem will not prevent Hazard from lining up against the Italians in Lyon.

"I don't think it is serious, just a knock." Wilmots told reporters.

Wilmots therefore has a fully-fit squad at his disposal after defender Thomas Vermaelen, who was considered a doubt last week, returned to training.

"Thomas has done well in training over the last days and is completely ready for the battle," Wilmots added. "He has no more problems."

Tonight's clash sees two of Europe's heavyweights going head to head early in the tournament.

But Wilmots insists the encounter between the group favourites will not prove decisive.

"There will still be six points available," he added. "At Euro 2000, Belgium won the first match against Sweden but was then eliminated after two defeats.

"I'm not calculating the permutations. I'm looking at the situation game by game."

Group E: Belgium v Italy (8.0 RTÉ 2/BBC 1)

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