Thomas Vermaelen Injury: Updates on Belgium Star's Status and Return

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 22: Thomas Vermaelen of Belgium receives treatment during warm ups prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group H match between Belgium and Russia at Maracana on June 22, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Updated from Tuesday, July 1

Thomas Vermaelen is not in Belgium's starting lineup against the United States:

Updates from Monday, June 23

Belgium updated Thomas Vermaelen's status after leaving Sunday's match vs. Russia with an injury:

Original Text

Thomas Vermaelen was forced to leave the pitch during Belgium's 2014 World Cup fixture against Russia on Sunday after just 30 minutes, with what looked to be a pulled thigh muscle.    

As shared by Belgian football insider John Chapman, the defender took a knock during warm-ups, possibly related to the eventual injury that forced Vermaelen to end the match prematurely:

Vermaelen had replaced Jan Vertonghen in the starting XI at the left-back position, with the Tottenham man looking shaky during the team's previous match against Algeria.

Vertonghen gave up a penalty in that match and failed to contribute much offensively, leading to Vermaelen getting his chance. Via BeneFoot, manager Marc Wilmots explained his decision to Belgian news network RTBF:

The centre-back has filled in as a left-back for the Red Devils in the past, and despite his relative lack of experience playing the position, he has looked strong in spot duty. Vermaelen's excellent athleticism serves him well when tracking back, and makes up for any positional mistakes that are bound to occur.

Vertonghen is an experienced and reliable replacement, so even if Vermaelen's injury turns out to be a serious one, the Belgian team should be fine.  

Nicolas Lombaerts will become the team's designated substitute for the central positions while Vermaelen recovers, and after the Belgians defeated Russia on Sunday, the team has already qualified for the next round.

The match against Korea Republic would then allow Wilmots to rest some of his starters, so Vermaelen won't be rushed back into action too soon.