Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez insists Vincent Kompany is not injured and withdrew from his starting line-up for the 1-1 draw against neighbours Netherlands on Wednesday as a precaution.
Kompany has been dogged by persistent muscular injuries over recent seasons, most notably groin and calf, but he was set to appear for Belgium for the first time in almost 13 months at the Amsterdam Arena.
But he was not part of the visiting side to take to the field, with debutant Christian Kabasele featuring in his place for a game where Yannick Carrasco’s deflected 82nd-minute strike cancelled out a first-half penalty from Netherlands’ Davy Klaassen.
“There is no injury to Vincent Kompany,” Martinez told reporters afterwards.
“We did not want to take any risks with him and Kompany did not feel well after the warm-up.
“I want every player to be 100 per cent. It’s too early to say if he will be ready for Sunday.”
The situation echoes Kompany’s removal at half-time during City’s 1-0 EFL Cup loss to rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford, with manager Pep Guardiola confirming afterwards that the 30-year-old “told me he could not play anymore”.
He was an unused substitute for the next three matches under Guardiola, who has urged Kompany to maintain an honest dialogue with City’s medical staff in order to try and rebuild his fragile fitness.
Estonia are next up for Belgium in World Cup qualifying and Martinez was satisfied with the workout his players enjoyed as he deployed a 3-4-3 formation and did not use a recognised striker until Romelu Lukaku’s 64th-minute introduction.
“It was a good block for 20 minutes then we were disorganised,” the former Everton boss reflected.
“The way we played for each other was so goof. We took a lot of information in and it was not easy against Netherlands.
“I’m pretty satisfied with the determination we have put into the game.”
Lukaku spurned a pair of chances either side of Carrasco’s leveller and Martinez added: “Late in the match was a good time to use the strength of Lukaku. He could have scored more goals. Today was an opportunity to test [a different formation].”