Belgium announce Premier League-packed 23-man final squad for Euro 2016

Marc Wilmots announced his finalised Belgium squad for Euro 2016 on Tuesday, with 12 Premier League players making the cut and replacement Christian Kabasele keeping his place after coming in for the injured Nicolas Lombaerts despite having not yet made his debut.

Belgium announce Premier League-packed 23-man final squad for Euro 2016
(Picture: Getty Images)

Marc Wilmots' final Belgium squad for Euro 2016 includes the uncapped Christian Kabasele and as many as 12 Premier League players as the manager was forced to negotiate a number of injury problems.

The Red Devils boss trimmed his squad from 24 players to 23 on Tuesday having had a number of defensive injuries to deal with the previous day, Nicolas Lombaerts and Dedryck Boyata both joining the growing list of absentees.

Long-serving captain Vincent Kompany and Bjorn Engels were already out with thigh and groin injuries and experienced Zenit St Petersburg defender Lombaerts was cut after failing to recover from a torn thigh muscle.

Wilmots overseeing a training session in Genk recently as Belgium prepare to face Finland. (Picture: Getty Images)
Wilmots overseeing a training session in Genk recently as Belgium prepare to face Finland. (Picture: Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Boyata of Celtic was forced to withdraw after sustaining a serious muscle injury in training earlier in the week in Belgium's training camp in Genk ahead of their warm-up friendly against Finland

In Lombaerts' place, Kabasele of Racing Genk has been called up to the squad despite having yet to make a first senior appearance for his country. The 25-year-old centre-back made 46 appearances, scoring five goals, across 2015-16 and joined Laurent Ciman in being drafted in as back-up.

Also battling minor injuries are midfielders Mousa Dembele and Radja Nainggolan, although both are expected to recover in time to feature at the Euros and should get minutes in Belgium's final friendly on Sunday afternoon.

Wilmots' side, which sits second in the FIFA world rankings behind only Argentina, also includes 12 players of Premier League clubs - including three representatives of Tottenham Hotspur in Toby Alderweireld, Dembele and Jan Vertonghen as well as Chelsea forward Eden Hazard, who will captain the side in place of Kompany, and Manchester City attacking midfielder Kevin De Bruyne.

Red Devils boast strong forward line as one of pre-tournament favourites

In an attack-heavy squad, Liverpool duo Christian Benteke and Divock Origi join Romelu Lukaku of Everton whilst Yannick Carrasco, who scored for Atletico Madrid in their UEFA Champions League final defeat last weekend, is also in the travelling party.

Notable omissions include Nacer Chadli and Kevin Mirallas, of Spurs and Everton, while there is no place for Eden's brother and Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder Thorgan Hazard or Anderlecht's Steven Defour.

Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj isn't involved either after a lack of game time throughout the season, one where he spent an unsuccessful loan spell with Borussia Dortmund while up-and-coming stars such as Zakaria Bakkali and Youri Tielemans of Valencia and Anderlecht are yet to break into the Red Devils' senior side.

Wilmots, discussing his decisions in front of the press on Tuesday, kicked off his press conference with dark humour as he joked: "I thought about killing myself yesterday," due to his mounting defensive injury crisis, before insisting that he was only joking.

Wilmots boasts one of the most polished squads at the tournament, including De Bruyne. (Picture: Getty Images)
Wilmots boasts one of the most polished squads at the tournament, including De Bruyne. (Picture: Getty Images)

The Belgium boss, who leads them into their first European Championships since 2000, acknowledged that it's "sad for all the boys" but "that's life" as he placed his faith in the remainder of his back-line, declaring: "The defenders who I have at my disposal are still very good players."

Without Kompany and Lombaerts, Wilmots could use Alderweireld and Vertonghen as full-backs either side of a central pairing of Jason Denayer and Thomas Vermaelen - as he has suggested he will experiment with in their penultimate friendly against Finland on Wednesday.

They then have one final friendly against Norway, also in Brussels and at the King Baudouin Stadium, before making the short trip to their base camp in France for the tournament itself - for which they are among the favourites due to their strong squad.

Belgium take on Italy in Lyon in their Group E opener, before fixtures against Republic of Ireland and Sweden follow in Bordeaux and Nice respectively.

Full 23-man squad:

Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Jean-Francois Gillet (Mechelen from Catania).

Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona), Jason Denayer (Galatasaray from Manchester City), Jordan Lukaku (Oostende), Thomas Meunier (Club Brugges), Laurent Ciman (Montreal Impact), Christian Kabasele (Genk).

Midfielders: Moussa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur), Radja Nainggolan (Roma), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Axel Witsel (Zenit St Petersburg), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid).

Forwards: Mitchy Batshuayi (Marseille), Romelu Lukaku (Everton), Christian Benteke (Liverpool), Divock Origi (Liverpool).