Chelsea’s Thorgan Hazard should be Belgium’s World Cup wild-card

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Chelsea player Thorgan Hazard can feel aggrieved to only be on stand-by for Belgium's World Cup squad.

There were not many surprises when the 24-man preliminary squad for the World Cup was announced on Tuesday.

One of the four goalkeepers named by Marc Wilmots will ultimately make way, but of the outfield players included, it was mostly as expected, with just two notable exceptions.

Given his recent international allegiance to the country of his birth, it was no real surprise to see Manchester United starlet Adnan Januzaj included, continuing what has been an outstanding debut season. But Lille striker Divock Origi was something of a left-field inclusion.

The 19-year-old is predominantly a centre-forward although he can also play from the left-wing. But when you consider that he has netted just five goals in 29 Ligue 1 matches this season – and has not provided a single assist – his inclusion does raise a few eyebrows, especially when you consider one young Belgian who missed out.

Chelsea’s Thorgan Hazard has enjoyed an outstanding spell in his homeland while on loan at SV Zulte-Waregem, scoring nine league goals and providing 14 assists. He has also 16 in all competitions, compared with Origi’s six.

The younger Hazard may be an attacking midfielder rather than a striker, but he is comfortable in a number of areas, equally adept on either wing as well as through the middle. And if Wilmots was prepared to give an untried youngster a chance, many Chelsea fans will feel that should have been their on-loan star rather than Origi.

Hazard was also crowned Belgium’s Player of the Year back in January, so it is not as though he has not drawn attention to himself during his stint away from Stamford Bridge.

But alas he will not be joining his older brother on the plane to Brazil, unless he is called-up at the expense of one of the men selected by Wilmots. For now, the 21-year-old will have to make do with a place on the stand-by list, but many will feel his form and his talent warrants a richer reward than that.

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