Updated from Tuesday, July 1
Thomas Vermaelen is not in Belgium's starting lineup against the United States:
Line up Belgium : Courtois, Alderweireld, Van Buyten, Kompany, Vertonghen, Witsel, Fellaini, De Bruyne, Mertens, Origi, Hazard #belusa— BelgianRedDevils (@BelRedDevils) July 1, 2014
Updates from Monday, June 23
Belgium updated Thomas Vermaelen's status after leaving Sunday's match vs. Russia with an injury:
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 off (took a knock in warm-up) and replaced by Vertonghen.— John Chapman (@BelgoFoot) June 22, 2014
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:
Wilmots on Vermaelen: I wanted to put a real defender on the left, who doesn't leave too much space & who defends first and foremost (RTBF)— BeNeFoot (@BeNeFoot) June 22, 2014
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.