FC Schalke 04 striker Emile Mpenza has ruled himself out of Belgium's two EURO 2004™ qualifying matches next month.
Mpenza has not played for Schalke since injuring his thigh in the 2-0 qualifying defeat by Bulgaria in Brussels on 7 September. Belgium face Andorra on 12 October and Estonia four days later but the 22-year-old said: "I only expect to be back to full training with Schalke around 10 or 15 October."
In the dark
However, the Belgian Football Association (URBSFA-KBVB) claimed today they were unaware of the player's unavailability. "We do not know anything about that, except what we heard from some journalists," URBSFA-KBVB press officer Nicolas Cornu said.
"Our coach Aimé Anthuenis does not know anything and does not want to respond to that injury yet. Emile's earlier problem with his right thigh was finished when he came to Belgium in September, even if he played with strapping on it against Bulgaria. But he received a blow to the side of the thigh in the second half and had to be replaced."
Mpenza, who has 12 international goals to his name from 37 appearances, has been hampered by a series of nagging problems and missed out on the FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan because of injury. He has a long history of back trouble, caused by a bad alignment of the spine, but it is thought dental problems may be the root of his recurrent muscular difficulties.
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