Belgium coach threatens wholesale changes
BORDEAUX, France (Reuters) - Belgium could make wholesale changes for Saturday’s European Championship clash with Ireland as they seek to keep their tournament hopes alive, coach Marc Wilmots said.
“Tomorrow there will be between two and 10 changes. Only the goalkeeper is certain,” he told reporters, refusing to confirm a starting place for playmaker Kevin de Bruyne, who suffered a light injury in training on Thursday.
“He (De Bruyne) is ready but if he plays tomorrow, we will see.”
Wilmots, who has faced severe criticism following his side's 2-0 defeat by Italy in their Group E opener, hinted at how he would look to play against the Irish in Bordeaux.
“We will need players who can move quickly between the lines,” he said, which could mean starts for Yannick Carrasco and Dries Mertens, who both came on as substitutes against Italy.
“The priority will be the quick movement of the ball. We can have only two touches when we are in possession. The key to the match could lie on the flanks because the Irish will seek to pack the midfield.
“We have only three games guaranteed in the tournament and that is not enough to give everyone some playing time. We are looking at who works hard and gives their utmost in training. Those players automatically get a chance. It keeps everyone in the squad on their toes."
Wilmots said his players had been involved in working out the gameplan, but the buck stops with him.
“If it goes wrong, then I’m responsible," he said. "But I’m looking for a reaction from the squad, I think they are fired up.”
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Toby Davis)