Romelu Lukaku has left the Belgium international camp due to a “muscle overload”, according to his national team boss Roberto Martinez.
The Chelsea striker found the net in his side’s 3-2 defeat against France in last week’s Nations League semi-final match and he had been due to play in the third-place playoff against Italy.
Instead, the striker will leave the camp early due to his fitness issues and is now set to return to Belgium in order to recuperate ahead of a return to club action.
Thomas Tuchel’s side return to action on Saturday as they make the short trip to play Brentford in the Premier League and will be keen for Lukaku to return to full fitness.
Pool via REUTERS)
The 28-year-old scored Belgium’s second goal and played the full 90 minutes in Thursday night’s defeat against France – ending a run of five matches in which he had failed to find the net at club level.
Lukaku re-joined Chelsea in the summer for a club-record £98million from Inter Milan and has since scored four goals in nine appearances in all competitions for Tuchel’s team.
Martinez told reporters at a press conference on Saturday: “It’s an overload. He didn’t feel 100 per cent to play tomorrow. It’s soreness in his tissue.
“Every decision taken involves both medical departments together for the good of the player.
“Hazard and Lukaku are in similar physical condition; they had a muscle overload and we don’t have the facilities to do the usual medical work.
“They will return to Belgium to get back to their best shape for the clubs.
“Obviously there’s an excellent understanding between the two medical staff and we want to do what’s best for the player.
“Every decision is also made in agreement with the club.”
Lukaku is his nation’s all-time leading goal scorer by some distance with his strike on Thursday night his 68 th goal at international level in 101 appearances for the Red Devils.
The striker made his senior international debut in 2010, and has represented his country at four major tournaments and finished as joint second-highest goalscorer won the Bronze Boot in the 2018 World Cup, when his goals helped Martinez’s side to a third-placed finish.
Lukaku’s return to Stamford Bridge this summer made him the seventh-most expensive player, the most expensive Belgian player, and the most expensive player with reference to cumulative transfer fees.