Belgium have been handed a massive boost to their World Cup chances, after star defenders Thomas Vermaelen and Vincent Kompany are both believed to be in line to return from their respective injuries in time to face England on 28th June.
Kompany, who won the Premier League with Manchester City this past season, picked up a knock during Belgium's pre-World Cup friendly against Portugal on June 2nd.
Barcelona defender Vermaelen hurt his hamstring in January in a La Liga match against Real Betis. Despite their persistent injury history, both players were included in Roberto Martinez's final 23-man squad for the World Cup.
In an interview with Sky Sports, Martínez discussed the duo's chances of making the crunch game, stating: "Thomas Vermaelen has improved really well, a little bit like we expected. He's not going to be involved in the game against Panama and that is going to be a decision to see about using him accordingly depending on his match fitness. Medically I think he could be fit for the next two games."
Discussing veteran centre-back Kompany, Martínez said: "With Kompany we're going to take through tomorrow to make the final call as we follow through the procedure. We are confident as well with the progress he has made since the Portugal (friendly) game that he will be available to be involved in the third game of the group phase."
Belgium kick off their World Cup campaign against tournament minnows Panama on Monday afternoon, and will be hoping to secure a big win in order to pile the pressure on England ahead of their clash against Tunisia in the evening. Les Diables Rouges boast a tantalising array of talent, including the likes of Chelsea's Eden Hazard, and Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku.
Kompany, 32, has been plagued with injuries for both club and country in recent seasons - he only played in 17 league matches for City this past season. Even so, the powerful defender carries a wealth of experience and pedigree, having won the Premier League three times with the Citizens and captaining Belgium during the 2014 World Cup.
Expectation is Belgium will be high heading into the tournament, with the golden generation of players expected to move past their tag as perennial 'dark horses' and make a real go at challenging for the trophy. The team should qualify for the knockout stages comfortably, and will be hoping to have assured their progress to the next round before they face England in their final group game.
Meanwhile, Iceland boss Heimir Hallgrímsson lauded his side's performance following their 1-1 draw with Argentina yesterday afternoon, claiming that his team's defence proved pivotal in securing the draw. The rank outsiders fought back from a goal down to draw level, before Hannes Halldórsson saved Lionel Messi's penalty to become Iceland's hero of the hour.