Soccer-Belgium without seven players for World Cup trip to Prague

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium must do without seven squad members for their trip to Prague to play the Czech Republic on Saturday in World Cup qualification.

The team’s five Bundesliga-based players will not travel for the Group E game because of quarantine restrictions on German residents travelling to the Czech Republic and the squad have been further hampered by injuries to Yannick Carrasco and Thomas Vermaelen, coach Roberto Martinez said on Friday.

Carrasco was expected to play but has a leg injury while Vermaelen picked up a niggle in their 3-1 win over Wales on Wednesday as he made his long-awaited return to the national team.

“With Vermaelen the plan was to use him for one half but he needs another 24 hours to be fit,” said Martinez at a news conference.

The German-based players in the Belgium squad are Dedryck Boyata (Hertha Berlin), Koen Casteels (VfL Wolfsburg), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund), Orel Mangala (VfB Stuttgart) and Thomas Meunier (Borussia Dortmund).

They will also remain in Belgium ahead of Tuesday’s third World Cup qualifier against Belarus in Leuven.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis)