Hazard replaces Kompany as Belgium captain for Euro 2016 as Red Devils announce official squad

Eden Hazard will captain the Belgium national team in place of Vincent Kompany after Marc Wilmots' 24-man squad, to be trimmed to 23, for Euro 2016 saw the Manchester City defender miss out through injury.

Hazard replaces Kompany as Belgium captain for Euro 2016 as Red Devils announce official squad
(Picture: Getty Images)

Belgium will be without captain Vincent Kompany for the 2016 UEFA European Championship in France this summer, after Marc Wilmots officially announced his squad on Thursday morning. 

Wilmots, who played down Belgium's chances of winning the tournament earlier this week, has selected a 24-man squad for their three warm-up friendlies.

That crop will have to be clipped to 23 before the start of the Euros, with the manager adding that they will "decide" who is left out after the first of those friendlies in order to give everyone a chance to prove their fitness.

Kompany misses out with ill-timed thigh injury

One player unable to feature, and the squad's most notable absentee, is Manchester City centre-back Kompany. He ruled himself out after picking up a thigh injury in their Champions League semi-final defeat to Real Madrid last month, an injury which could keep him sidelined for as long as four months.

Kompany's injury woes continued earlier this month, meaning he will miss the Euros. (Picture: Getty Images)
Kompany's injury woes continued earlier this month, meaning he will miss the Euros. (Picture: Getty Images)

On the Red Devils' skipper's absence from the team, Wilmots told journalists that it is both "a shame for him" and "[a shame] for the team" but declared: "Let's not cry about it. We are looking resolutely to the future."

Kompany's City team-mate Kevin De Bruyne makes the cut after an excellent first season at the Etihad Stadium. Despite spending three months out with a knee injury, he has contributed 16 goals and nine assists in all competitions and has generally been a shining light across a poor campaign.

Origi and Benteke join Batshuayi and Lukaku 

Elsewhere, Liverpool strikers Divock Origi and Christian Benteke - both of whom have hit double figures across the season in the face of niggling injuries - are included and join Everton striker Romelu Lukaku and Michy Batshuayi in making up Wilmots' forward options.

It is almost an embarrassment of riches for the 47-year-old manager, who has overseen 27 wins in 42 international fixtures, with Batshuayi having hit 22 goals and Lukaku having plundered 25 himself, despite the two playing in underwhelming Marseille and Everton teams respectively.

Origi and Benteke have both hit 10 goals for Liverpool in their first seasons at the club. (Picture: Getty Images)
Origi and Benteke have both hit 10 goals for Liverpool in their first seasons at the club. (Picture: Getty Images)

Origi, meanwhile, will be given an opportunity to prove his fitness for the tournament - having missed the last six matches with an ankle ligament injury, although Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp has recently revealed the striker is recovering quicker than first expected. 

Benteke too has had an inconsistent campaign, scoring his 10th goal of the season on Wednesday night, and was tipped to miss out to Batshuayi and Lukaku. However, he has been selected and will be keen to prove he's worthy of a place once the squad is trimmed.

Chelsea's Eden Hazard to captain Red Devils

Their supporting cast includes the likes of Eden Hazard, who will take up the role of captain in Kompany's absence and comes into the tournament in strong form. The Chelsea forward has had a generally disappointing campaign after being crowned PFA Player of the Year when the Blues won the Premier League last season.

With Chelsea incapable of finishing higher than ninth this season, the worst season ever for a reigning champion, Hazard has only recently hit full stride - although he boasts four goals in his last four games as he begins to look more like his old self.

Hazard, sporting the captain's armband, in a recently friendly against Italy. (Picture: Getty Images)
Hazard, sporting the captain's armband, in a recently friendly against Italy. (Picture: Getty Images)

Across a glittering attacking midfield, Dries Mertens - who has made only six Serie A starts all season for Napoli despite scoring 11 goals in all competitions - joins exciting young winger Yannick Carrasco, who has proven an important player for Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid this season.

The Belgian's defence and midfield is packed with Premier League talent - as many as 12 players from England's top-tier named by Wilmots. In goal, Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois is expected to be No.1, with Liverpool shot-stopper Simon Mignolet as his back-up. 

Sturdy Spurs contingent included in defence

Ahead of them, Tottenham Hotspur centre-back Toby Alderweireld - who made the PFA Team of the Year for his excellent season - is joined by Spurs team-mate Jan Vertonghen with the two likely to form Wilmots first-choice defensive partnership, although Alderweireld has regularly played a right-back role for his national team.

Former Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen, now at Barcelona, is included although the 30-year-old has only played 10 league games this season and none since March, and will likely have to play for his place in the warm-up matches.

Vertonghen and Alderweireld have been a major part of the Premier League's best defence. (Picture: Getty Images)
Vertonghen and Alderweireld have been a major part of the Premier League's best defence. (Picture: Getty Images)

Wilmots also suggested that he views Jason Denayer, on loan at Galatasaray but a Man City player, as a "replacement" for Kompany with the hopes for the towering 20-year-old reportedly very high. 

Romelu Lukaku's brother Jordan Lukaku is also in the squad, with the 21-year-old only having made two appearances for his country. The left-back helped K.V. Oostende to the Belgian First Division A play-offs, where they finished fifth of six teams.

Chadli and Mirallas amongst the omissions 

Mousa Dembélé is the third Spurs representative, the midfielder a crucial component of the Mauricio Pochettino side which is on course for a strong second-place finish despite missing out on the title to Leicester City.

Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini is named alongside AS Roma's Radja Nainggolan and Axel Witsel of Zenit Saint Petersburg to complete a strong centre, although just four natural central midfielders have been chosen.

Wilmots has decisions to make as to who to cut from the 24-man squad. (Picture: Getty Images)
Wilmots has decisions to make as to who to cut from the 24-man squad. (Picture: Getty Images)

That means Nacer Chadli, also of Spurs, misses out with Everton winger Kevin Mirallas also in the stand-by list. Also on the seven-man list is Eden's brother Thorgan Hazard, of Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Belgium, one of the favourites to challenge in France, play Switzerland in Geneva on May 28 in a game which will offer Wilmots his final opportunity to make the decision on who he chooses for the 23-man squad - with the UEFA deadline just a few days later on June 1.

They then face Finland and Norway in home friendlies in the weeks running up to the tournament, which they will kick off with a tough Group E encounter with Italy on June 13 before clashes with Republic of Ireland and Sweden.

Belgium's Euro 2016 squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois, Jean-François Gillet, Simon Mignolet.

Defenders: Toby Alderweireld, Dedryck Boyata, Jason Denayer, Björn Engels, Nicolas Lombaerts, Jordan Lukaku, Thomas Meunier, Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Vertonghen.

Midfielders: Moussa Dembélé, Marouane Fellaini, Radja Nainggolan, Axel Witsel, Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, Dries Mertens, Kevin De Bruyne.

Forwards: Romelu Lukaku, Christian Benteke, Divock Origi, Michy Batshuayi.

Stand-by list:

Matz Sels (GK), Nacer Chadli, Laurent Ciman, Laurens De Bock, Guillaume Gillet, Thorgan Hazard, Kevin Mirallas.