BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgium is taking two untested teenagers to the World Cup, including Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj who only chose to play for the national team three weeks ago.
If the inclusion of Januzaj had been expected, Belgium coach Marc Wilmots sprang a major surprise in picking another 19-year-old, Divock Origi of French club Lille as a stand-in for the injured striker Christian Benteke. Neither has played for Belgium.
At the World Cup, Belgium will face Russia, South Korea and Algeria in Group H and with standout players like goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, defender Vincent Kompany and playmaker Eden Hazard is expected to go far in the tournament.
Origi has Kenyan family roots but was born in Belgium. Januzaj has Balkan heritage had been able to pick several nations for international duty, including Albania and Kosovo. He has been with Manchester United since 2011.
"He is a top talent and has such exceptional qualities. He can play several positions," Wilmots said of Januzaj.
Wilmots included Origi after Aston Villa forward Benteke ruptured his Achilles tendon last month.
"He has great potential," Wilmots said. "He has Benteke's profile. It is easy to target him." He has scored five times for Lille this season.
Instead of announcing an extended squad from which to pick the final 23, Wilmots surprisingly announced all the outfield players that will travel to the training camp outside Sao Paulo. He did pick four goalkeepers. Beyond undisputed No. 1 Courtois of Atletico Madrid and backup Simon Mignolet of Liverpool, Wilmots will also take Koen Casteels of Hoffenheim if he has recovered enough from a leg injury. It would make Silvio Proto of Anderlecht the only dropout before departure to Brazil.
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