PARIS (AP) – Belgium defender Jan Vertonghen has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament after twisting his ankle in training, a day before his team's quarterfinal game against Wales.
Belgium coach Marc Wilmots says the Tottenham defender tore ligaments and will likely be out for six to eight weeks.
"It's a sporting tragedy for him. Mentally and physically he was completely fit," Wilmots says.
The absence of his most-capped player (83 games) increases Wilmots' defensive worries ahead of the Wales game.
With regulars Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Lombaerts not at the tournament due to injury and Thomas Vermaelen sitting out a suspension, Wilmots will have to rely on a less-experienced replacement. Jordan Lukaku (four caps), Jason Denayer (seven) or Thomas Meunier (eight) could play.
Wales coach Chris Coleman says Vertonghen's injury means "a big loss to Belgium" but added "they've got so much talent" in order to find suitable replacements.
Belgium captain Eden Hazard, meanwhile, has returned to training ahead of the quarterfinal match.
Hazard missed practice sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday because of a thigh problem. He trained early Thursday at the team's base in Bordeaux, before the Belgians' scheduled departure to the northern city of Lille where Friday's match against Wales is staged.
The Chelsea winger is Belgium's most dangerous attacking player and starred in the 4-0 victory over Hungary in the round of 16.