Manager Roberto Martinez has stuck by captain Kompany despite the defender suffering a groin injury in Saturday’s goalless draw with Portugal, having undergone a scan on Sunday to try and determine the extent of the damage.
It’s understood that the injury is not as bad as initially feared, with Martinez willing to risk naming Kompany in the squad even though another centre-back in Thomas Vermaelen is also a fitness doubt heading into the tournament.
Thirty-two-year-old Kompany has been severely hampered by injury over the last few years of his career and there is a fear that any minor injury could quickly result in a lengthy lay-off that may significantly impact Belgium’s World Cup campaign.
But despite naming Kompany in the 23-man squad – which was cut from 28 on Monday – Martinez admitted that the option to replace him remains available if he deems such a decision necessary.
“Until 24 hours before (Belgium v Panama) we can still make a replacement,” Martinez said. “We need to wait a period of seven, eight days with Vincent Kompany. Then we will get a good opportunity to make a diagnosis.
“Vincent Kompany is a true leader. He performed in a fantastic manner when he was on the pitch. His leadership is essential for us.”
But while Kompany joins a host of other Premier League players in the squad, including the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois and Jan Vertonghen, there is no room for Benteke, with the 27-year-old the most notable omission from Martinez’s side.
With Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi and Napoli’s Dries Mertens joining Lukaku as the strike options in the squad, Martinez admitted that leaving Benteke out was his most difficult decision.
“He did everything during this camp, leaving him at home was the hardest decision,” Martinez added. “I choose the balance in the team, so I only take two deep strikers.”
As well as Panama, Belgium face England and Tunisia in Group G.
Belgium World Cup squad
Goalkeepers: Koen Casteels, Thibaut Courtois, Simon Mignolet
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld, Dedryck Boyata, Vincent Kompany, Thomas Meunier, Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Vertonghen
Midfielders: Yannick Carrasco, Nacer Chadli, Leander Dendoncker, Kevin de Bruyne, Mousa Dembele, Marouane Fellaini, Eden Hazard, Thorgan Hazard, Adnan Januzaj, Youri Tielemans, Axel Witsel
Forwards: Michy Batshuayi, Dries Mertens, Romelu Lukaku