Roberto Martinez warns Eden Hazard unlikely to play 90 minutes for Belgium


Jamie Spencer
Eden Hazard is lacking fitness
Eden Hazard is lacking fitness / Isosport/MB Media/GettyImages

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has admitted it is unlikely that Real Madrid winger Eden Hazard will play 90 minutes in either of his national team’s games this month because of a lack of fitness.

Injuries have ravaged Hazard’s time in Madrid and he has only played 54 times in all competition for Los Blancos since his 2019 transfer. By comparison, he made 52 appearances in his last season at Chelsea alone.

This season has been another struggle for the 30-year-old in terms of playing time. He has only suffered one minor injury setback yet has often had to make do with a place on the bench.

Of his 11 appearances so far, fewer than half have been as a starter, while he hasn’t started a game in La Liga since 19 September, around eight weeks ago.

Despite his relative lack of action for Real, Hazard has still been called up to the Belgium squad for each international break this season – he captains the side if he starts. But he has only completed 90 minutes for his country once in the last two years and that is unlikely to change now.

Discussing Belgium’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Estonia and Wales in the coming days, which will all but certainly secure a place at a third consecutive finals, Martinez admitted that he would be ‘surprised’ if Hazard could play 90 minutes in either of them.

That isn’t to say that he won’t start, but there should be a limit on expectations.

“It would be a surprise if Eden lasted 90 minutes,” Martinez told reporters ahead of facing Estonia in Brussels on Saturday night.

“Slowly and step by step,” the coached warned, “…he has not played much football [this season].”

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