Football

Boost for Belgium defence

Belgium received a boost ahead of their quarter-final clash against Argentina tomorrow night (Singapore time) as two key defenders returned from injury this morning.

Centre back Thomas Vermaelen, who missed his side's last two games due to a right thigh strain, was among 13 players who took part in a training session at Belgium's base in Sao Paulo.

Another group of players, those who started in the 2-1 win over the US on Tuesday, participated in a bike ride.

Also, captain Vincent Kompany (above) was "recovering well" from a groin problem that forced him to sit out his side's final group game against South Korea last week, according to coach Marc Wilmots.

"He looks to have made a very good recovery," said Wilmots of his key centre back, who did not train before their 2-1 extra-time win over the US.

Kompany got through the two-hour last-16 drama at the Fonte Nova Arena, but at times seemed bothered by the injury.

Speaking after the match, Wilmots was not sure if the injury had flared up but has since told reporters Kompany was on track to feature in the last eight.

However, midfielder Mousa Dembele is continuing to undergo treatment after receiving a knock against South Korea, while two defenders - Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld - were struggling with small niggles.

Wilmots said: "That stands to reason after the exertions against the US, but our medical staff have done an outstanding job and will sort it out."

Belgium fly to Brasilia this morning in preparation for their last-eight encounter against Argentina at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium tomorrow. - Wire Services.

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