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Lay off Lukaku criticism, says Wilmots

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Le Haillan (France) (AFP)

Belgium coach Marc Wilmots has called for an end to criticism of striker Romelu Lukaku ahead of his side's Euro 2016 quarter-final against Wales.

Lukaku scored twice in Belgium's 3-0 win over the Republic of Ireland but has otherwise failed to find the net at the tournament.

In Sunday's 4-0 defeat of Hungary that took the Red Devils through to the last 16, the Everton centre-forward was replaced towards the end by Michy Batshuayi, who scored just two minutes after coming on.

"Romelu moves a lot. All (goalkeeper Thibaut) Courtois' clearances come to him. Against Hungary he won every ball in the air," Wilmots said to reporters on Belgium's base near Bordeaux on Tuesday.

"He runs all the time and tires out defences, creates space for others. Believe me, defenders, when they are up against him, are not laughing.

"Against Hungary he was off the mark with one lay-off. One! He can't get away with the slightest mistake. Everything he does has to come off," he said of the criticism.

Belgium captain Eden Hazard did not train on Tuesday after Wilmots explained the Chelsea star began to feel a slight twinge in his thigh against Hungary.

But Wilmots allayed fears over his fitness for the quarter-final.

"He is in the hands of the physios and he will return to training on Thursday. He will be 100 percent fine, no problem."

The Red Devils will however be without the suspended Thomas Vermaelen against Wales, so Jason Denayer of Manchester City could start in central defence in the game in Lille.

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