The Belgium coach confirmed that he will make changes his side for their final Group H clash against South Korea with a view to giving players more experienceBy Kris Voakes at Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo
The Red Devils have already booked their place in the Round of 16 following narrow victories over Algeria and Russia, and Wilmots will use the final pool match as an opportunity to inject greater experience into his young squad.
“I have a very good core of players, and I have a number of players who want to show what they can do,” the head coach told a pre-match press conference on Wednesday.
“I have a chance now to play fresh players who have not played in two to three weeks and they will do what they can to impress. I have six players in attacking positions and everyone will get a chance to play now.
“There have been a lot of players cramping after 70 minutes in the World Cup, and if we want to go further than the round of 16 then we have to keep players fresh.”
While many will be left out by choice, Wilmots has been forced to do without Thomas Vermaelen and Vincent Kompany, both of whom failed to complete training on the eve of the match.
“We have two players who have withdrew from the training. Vermaelen, who will hopefully fit for the next stage, and Kompany also,” informed Wilmots.
“They are two minor injuries, not very serious but they will miss the Korea game.
“Kompany’s injury is a groin injury. He stopped training after 35 minutes, he’s just over-exercised a bit.
“It’s early days but I don’t think it’s serious. We have time, as we have four or five days to get him right [for the Round of 16]. The doctors and physios will take their time and analyse it.”
Despite the extensive absences, Wilmots insists that he has paid maximum respect to South Korea in his preparation.
“This afternoon at 3:30 we had a theory session. We always work in the same way, we would even have done that if we had had no points. We have seen all the video clips, all the set-pieces,” Wilmots insisted.
“We have a scenario in each match but I can’t say how Korea will play. They played very well against Russia but conceded four against Algeria. That may have affected their spirit.”
The two sides face off at the Arena Corinthians at 22:00CET, with Belgium needing only a draw to clinch first position in the group.