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Why Belgium are set to bring an understrength side to Dublin in March

Ireland Belgium friendly

Ireland are set to take on the world number one side at the Aviva.

Ireland have been handed a March international friendly against Belgium, but it will be with a twist.

Rather than sending over star-studded names such as Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, Belgium are set to send over an understrength side.

Still, Roberto Martinez’s side will be a threat nonetheless for Stephen Kenny‘s re-invigorated charges.

But why are the Belgians sending over a lesser-heralded squad?

Belgium to send lesser-names to Dublin for friendly v Ireland.

Heading into a World Cup year, that Ireland are not a part of, it is clear that the Belgians are keen to prime themselves for a jaunt at glory in Qatar.

And it is often the case that international teams would be keen to build up as much cohesion as possible, but for Belgium, they appear less inclined to do so.

Given their vast array of attacking talent, and quality throughout their squad, they have several young players coming through the ranks who are still lacking as much international experience as their olderl teammates.

“As previously announced, manager Roberto Martinez will only call upon players who have 50 caps or less for both matches,” a statement from the Belgian FA read when the fixture was announced.

And while that will come as a blow to those hoping to see Belgium’s big guns in the flesh, they do still have many impressive players within that cohort.

Premier League star Youri Tielemans is one, whereas exciting teenager Jeremy Doku is also likely to line out, having done so at Euro 2020 last summer.

But their unwillingness to send over an experienced side may be a shrewd one, as Martinez looks to develop his younger generation of stars.

Belgium v Ireland.

While the Aviva Stadium showdown has little importance riding on it for Belgium, it is likely to be significant for Stephen Kenny’s Ireland.

Kenny has long-spoken about the importance of the upcoming Nations League campaign, and a win against Belgium would do nicely in terms of preparations for that; despite their decision to send over a squad of supposed lesser-names.

Saying that, Martinez’s forward-thinking in this sense is one that will stand his side in good stead, with his bigger names set to return for June’s Nations League campaign.

And with his young stars unlikely to play a major role in those June internationals, their friendly away to Ireland will provide them with a considerable role to play, in a relatively low-risk game.

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