Belgium coach Marc Wilmots admitted it was "emotionally very tough" to leave out Timmy Simons after confirming his squad for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Simons, 37, was a regular in qualifying but has not made the cut, while uncapped LOSC Lille forward Divock Origi – replacing injured Christian Benteke – and 19-year-old Adnan Januzaj of Manchester United FC are included. Wilmots has named 24 players, with Silvio Proto as an extra goalkeeper for the final squad if Koen Casteels is ruled out by his shinbone injury.
Wilmots, whose international playing career overlapped with Simons's, said: "This is emotionally very tough for him and for me – Timmy and I go a long way back together, but at a certain point one has to make decisions and I also want to opt for youth. I do not want to take anyone with me who will not get many chances to play."
Of Januzaj – one of 11 squad members from the English Premier League – Wilmots added: "He has quality and class. He is used to playing in front of 70,000 spectators. For him, just as for Origi, this World Cup is the ideal moment to integrate him into the squad."
Belgium will face Luxembourg in Genk on 26 May, Sweden in Solna on 1 June and Tunisia in Brussels six days later, before travelling to Brazil. There they take on Algeria in Belo Horizonte on 17 June, Russia in Rio de Janeiro five days later and South Korea in Sao Paulo on 26 June to conclude Group H.
Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Club Atlético de Madrid), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool FC), Koen Casteels (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim)*.
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Club Atlético de Madrid), Anthony Vanden Borre (RSC Anderlecht), Laurent Ciman (R. Standard de Liège), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City FC), Daniel Van Buyten (FC Bayern München), Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal FC), Nicolas Lombaerts (FC Zenit).
Midfielders: Axel Witsel (FC Zenit), Steven Defour (FC Porto), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United FC), Nacer Chadli (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Moussa Dembélé (Tottenham Hotspur FC).
Forwards: Kevin De Bruyne (VfL Wolfsburg), Dries Mertens (SSC Napoli), Adnan Januzaj (Manchester United FC), Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC), Kevin Mirallas (Everton FC), Romelu Lukaku (Everton FC), Divock Origi (LOSC Lille).
*Will be replaced by Silvio Proto (RSC Anderlecht) if injured.
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