Romelu Lukaku is optimistic that he will be able to play against England on Thursday in Kaliningrad despite injuring his ankle during Belgium’s impressive 5-2 win against Tunisia on Saturday.
The Manchester United striker limped off just before the hour mark but reassured fans when asked about his injury after the game.
“I am a quick healer,” he said. “I will see how I feel tonight and tomorrow with the medical staff. I am not too worried. I am just relaxed about the England game.
“It is going to be nice to see a couple of my club teammates on the pitch but as soon as the game starts, we will be all fighting for our countries. It will be a nice battle.”
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez was not too alarmed either by Lukaku’s injury.
“It was a knock that he had late in the first half and he tried to play through it and he couldn’t,” Martinez said in his news conference. “He’s going to be assessed and then we’ll find out a bit more in 48 hours. We have to wait for his ankle to be less swollen and keep our fingers crossed.”
Martinez said he plans to make a number of changes to face England, so Lukaku could be rested anyway.
On Saturday, the former Chelsea player led his country to another win, scoring a brace in consecutive games, becoming the first player since Maradona to accomplish such a feat in the World Cup.
He went level with Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo as the tournament’s top scorer with four goals, but he played down the possibility that he could win the Golden Boot and pointed to the work of teammate Eden Hazard, who also scored twice.
“Scoring is a good feeling to have. I am a goal scorer so I am here to score goals. But at the end of the day, I want to help my teammates to reach something. We are all working hard,” he said.
“I am delighted for Eden as well to come to the forefront too. We need players like him to perform so I am glad he did so well today.”
Lukaku was delighted by the progress his team has been making in this competition so far.
“We need to keep improving like we are doing now. We played much better against Tunisia today than against Panama,” he said. “We have to keep improving. We are working hard day after day, giving our maximum and hopefully we can keep playing better and better.
“The most important is to enjoy yourself. Football is all about having fun but playing to win at the same time. If you find the right balance, it is so much more enjoyable. In the last tournament we played [Euro 2016], we set the bar so high and we didn’t reach our objectives. This time, we are just trying to enjoy ourselves.
“We know it might be the last tournament for our generation because some players are going to retire. So we are also playing for them.”
Martinez and midfielder Axel Witsel, one of Lukaku’s best friends in this Belgian side, also heaped praise on the Red Devils’ striker.
“I thought he was incisive, in the right position, in a confident mood, in front of goal he was as clinical as you might expect,” Martinez about his striker’s performance.
Witsel told ESPN: “Rom is playing great at the moment. He scores easily. Even at training, when he misses a chance, he goes mad. He always wants to score. He is working very hard at training on his movements and his finishing. It is paying off.”
Lukaku and his teammates will be able to celebrate their victory on Saturday evening. They will be joined by their families for a barbecue at their base near Moscow before having Sunday off.