Belgium skipper Hazard could still make Euros, says Martinez

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FILE PHOTO: La Liga Santander - Deportivo Alaves v Real Madrid

(Reuters) - Belgium coach Robert Martinez is confident forward Eden Hazard could be back from injury to time for the European Championships in June but warned on Friday no pressure must be placed on his recovery.

The Belgium captain has struggled with a series of injuries this season that have limited his playing time for both Real Madrid and his country and he will miss the three World Cup qualifiers this month.

However, Martinez suggested he could be back in action some time before the beginning of the Euros in June, where top ranked Belgium are among the favourites.

"He has a long way to go in his recovery and we must not set any time limits on him. It would be wrong and it would be gambling by anyone to try and imagine whether he is going to be fully fit or not," the Spanish coach said as he named a 33-man squad for matches against Wales, Czech Republic and Belarus.

"But I think this can be solved earlier than the Euros but we'll only know day by day."

Hazard's endless litany of niggling injuries stems from a major ankle operation he underwent last year, added Martinez.

"His bigger problems comes from a lack of symmetry since he had the surgery. It is a soft tissue injury and the medical decision now is a clear, to go with a conservative approach.

"He knows he is in the best moments of his career and now he is just looking forward to be able to be fully fit to enjoy everything ahead of him," the coach added.

Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku was included in the squad despite a COVID-19 virus outbreak at his club. Martinez said the situation was being monitored daily.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Christian Radnedge)