Roberto Martinez remains “very positive” Eden Hazard will be fit and firing in time for Euro 2020 despite missing out on Belgium’s latest squad.
And the Red Devils coach called on club side Real Madrid to join the national team in taking “responsibility” for Hazard’s recovery.
The winger returned from a six-game absence in LaLiga to appear as a second-half substitute in Madrid’s win against Elche last weekend.
However, Hazard had to miss training on Monday due to a damaged hip flexor and could not face Atalanta in the Champions League the following day.
Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane fumed at the repeated “inexplicable” issues that have restricted Hazard to just 36 appearances and 29 starts since his €100million transfer in June 2019.
Hazard has scored only four times for Los Blancos, providing five assists from 38 chances created.
But he remains a key man for Belgium, with five goals, seven assists and 34 chances created in eight European Championship qualifying outings and is set to captain the side at the finals, if he can recover in time.
Martinez is staying patient, revealing the player – in “good spirits” – will not undergo surgery and explaining: “I think there is still a long, long, long, long way to go [to the Euros].
“Rather than setting a timeline, all that matters is to measure every day and to see that Eden is on the right path to get back to full fitness.
“It would be wrong and it would be gambling, by anyone, to imagine if Eden will be fully fit or not.
“I feel this situation can be solved a lot earlier than the Euros, but only when Eden goes from day to day will we see the final answer.
“Knowing Eden, what we’re dealing with is a player that has never been injured in his career. This is a real shock, something new. There is a lot of uncertainty around that.
“But in terms of the injury, I feel very positive that we can get to see the best Eden Hazard well before the Euros.”
— Belgian Red Devils (@BelRedDevils) March 19, 2021
While Zidane had no explanation for Hazard’s woes, Martinez added: “This is a situation with Eden Hazard. We’re dealing with the same problem. There’s been a lot of different niggles and different problems, but everything comes from the same previous problem.
“Now is the moment to forget about any deadlines, any times, it’s about Eden Hazard, giving him what he needs and getting him fully recovered and making sure he’s back on the football pitch.
“We all need to take that responsibility, between the Belgian federation and the club where he’s playing his football.”
While Hazard will play no part in Belgium’s March World Cup qualifiers against Wales, Czech Republic and Belarus, Romelu Lukaku has been included, despite a coronavirus breakout at Inter.
There are also first senior nods for midfielders Albert Sambi Lokonga and Orel Mangala.
Belgium squad in full:
Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Thomas Kaminski (Blackburn Rovers), Simon Mignolet (Club Brugge); Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Dedryck Boyata (Hertha Berlin), Timothy Castagne (Leicester City), Jason Denayer (Lyon), Leander Dendoncker (Wolves), Thomas Foket (Reims), Brandon Mechele (Club Brugge), Thomas Meunier (Borussia Dortmund), Thomas Vermaelen (Vissel Kobe), Jan Vertonghen (Benfica); Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid), Nacer Chadli (Istanbul Basaksehir), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund), Albert Sambi Lokonga (Anderlecht), Orel Mangala (Stuttgart), Dennis Praet (Leicester City), Alexis Saelemaekers (Milan), Youri Tielemans (Leicester City), Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge); Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Charles De Ketelaere (Club Brugge), Jeremy Doku (Rennes), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad), Romelu Lukaku (Inter), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Leandro Trossard (Brighton and Hove Albion), Yari Verschaeren (Anderlecht).