Soccer-Belgium forced into defensive changes for opener v Slovakia

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - International Friendly - Ireland v Belgium - Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland - March 23, 2024 Belgium's Wout Faes during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo

FRANKFURT, Germany (Reuters) - Wout Faes and Zeno Debast will start in central defence for Belgium in their European Championship Group E opener against Slovakia on Monday, while Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku provide the attacking threat.

First-choice defenders Jan Vertonghen and Arthur Theate have returned to training following injuries but have not been risked from the start in Frankfurt, though they are on the bench along with Axel Witsel, another injury doubt.

Lukaku has scored 17 goals in 11 games under new coach Domenico Tedesco, who is unbeaten in his 15 matches in charge, while exciting winger Jeremy Doku is also in the starting side.

Slovakia have highly rated midfielder Stanislav Lobotka to set the tempo and Lukaku’s former Inter Milan team mate Milan Skriniar will be tasked with limiting the Belgian forward’s chances.

Belgium: Koen Casteels; Timothy Castagne, Wout Faes, Zeno Debast; Amadou Onana, Orel Mangala, Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Carrasco, Jeremy Doku; Leandro Trossard, Romelu Lukaku.

Slovakia: Martin Dubravka; Peter Pekarik, Denis Vavro, Milan Skriniar, David Hancko; Juraj Kucka, Stanislav Lobotka, Ondrej Duda; Ivan Schranz, Lukas Haraslin, Robert Bozenik.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Ed Osmond)

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