Vincent Kompany will remain with the Belgium squad at the World Cup despite currently being sidelined by a groin injury, coach Roberto Martinez confirmed on Sunday.
Martinez could have made a change to his squad of 23 as late as Sunday, the day before a much-fancied Belgian side begin their World Cup campaign against Panama in Group G in Sochi.
Kompany has not played since suffering the injury in a friendly against Portugal two weeks ago, and Martinez said he is not expected to be available again before the final group game against England in Kaliningrad on June 28.
“We made the medical decision this morning that we are going to maintain the squad of 23 as announced,” Martinez told reporters at Sochi’s Fisht Stadium.
“We are not going to use any changes. Vinny has evolved better than we thought, even though we thought that he could have a good opportunity to be involved in the group phase. Now he has a stronger opportunity.”
Martinez also has Barcelona’s Thomas Vermaelen struggling to overcome a hamstring problem — he stayed at the team’s Moscow base rather than travel to the Black Sea coast for Monday’s game.
But standby option Laurent Ciman had already been allowed to travel back to Belgium on Saturday.
Manchester City stopper Kompany will also miss next Saturday’s match against Tunisia in Moscow.
Without the experienced duo, Celtic’s Dedryck Boyata is set to play with Tottenham Hotspur pair Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld against Panama, but Martinez said Kompany’s presence remains crucial.
“We see his presence, he is a very valuable part of our squad. He has experience, he has know-how. The decision is the 23 we have now will remain.”