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 By Ian Holyman

Burnley's Steven Defour acknowledges Belgium World Cup call-up unlikely after injury

Steven Defour told La Derniere Heure is not optimistic he will be fit enough to make Belgium's World Cup squad even though his recovery from knee surgery is ahead of schedule.

Defour, 30, has not played for Burnley since a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United on Jan. 20 after requiring an operation to repair damaged cartilage.

The midfielder was part of the Belgium squad for November's internationals with Japan and Mexico, and would have been expected to feature in coach Roberto Martinez's plans for Russia this summer.

However, with Defour admitting he is highly unlikely to return before the mid-May deadline to name the squad, he said "there is a little chance" he will be fit for the World Cup.

"Let's say six to seven percent now," Defour said. "I'm a little bit ahead of schedule. But I won't push my body like I did before, notably when I broke my foot or after muscle tears. I want to play until I'm 35, so I'm not going to rush things."

Burnley's Steven Defour
Steven Defour was Burnley's record signing from Anderlecht in 2016.

Defour had started all but four of Burnley's Premier League games before he was injured, and he wrote on Instagram in January that the need for surgery meant his season was already over.

The club's £8 million record signing when he moved from Anderlecht in 2016, he has been an integral part of manager Sean Dyche's plans and is aiming for that to continue into 2018-19.

"As far as I'm concerned, I just want to be fit again, but also for next season with Burnley," he said.

"I'm a little bit ahead of schedule, but perhaps afterward, when there are more things to do, maybe I'll have a bit of a setback. You can't plan for that."

Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman

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