Soccer-De Bruyne fit to play for Belgium against Denmark


Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Belgium Training - Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark - June 16, 2021 Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne before training REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Belgium playmaker Kevin De Bruyne is fit to play against Denmark on Thursday and make a much anticipated entry into the European Championship, coach Roberto Martinez said.

De Bruyne suffered a double facial fracture in last month’s Champions League final, missing Belgium’s build-up to Euro 2020 and their first Group B game against Russia on Saturday, when they posted an impressive 3-0 victory.

"He is medically fit, he has the green light to be in a match situation," Martinez told a news conference on Wednesday.

"Now it is a question of seeing how long Kevin can play and how we can use the two games we have in five day to get him up to full fitness.

"I’ve been very pleased with the progress he has made and every day he makes a big difference.

"I could add Axel Witsel is in the same situation and it’s a little different for Eden Hazard because he was already involved in the friendly against Croatia and the game against Russia," he added.

"We want every player to be up to 90-minute fitness in the two games we have ahead," Martinez added.

Belgium’s final group game is against Finland in St Petersburg on Monday.

De Bruyne, 29, broke his nose and an eye socket after a clash with Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger as Manchester City lost the final on May 29. He underwent surgery five days later and spent a week recovering at home before joining up with the Belgian squad last week.

Witsel, 32, is set for a surprise return after tearing an Achilles tendon in January while playing for Borussia Dortmund.

After undergoing surgery, he was told it would be nine months before he could play again, but Martinez said Witsel's disciplined rehabilitation has allowed him to return way ahead of schedule.

Hazard, 30, had an injury-plagued season at Real Madrid but was used as a substitute against Russia and showed some of his old sparkle in a 20-minute cameo.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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