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 By Ian Holyman

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez hails 'exceptional' Romelu Lukaku start

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has said he is delighted with the form of the country's Premier League players, highlighting striker Romelu Lukaku's "exceptional" start to life at Manchester United.

Lukaku, 24, has scored six times in seven starts for United since his summer move from Everton, with two of those strikes coming in the Premier League opener against West Ham.

"Romelu Lukaku was exceptional on his official debut for Manchester United and [Kevin] De Bruyne was very good in his first league match with Manchester City," Martinez told La Derniere Heure. "[Vincent] Kompany was solid in a back three.

"After his operation this summer, Moussa Dembele played 90 minutes at a very high level [for Tottenham], and Eden [Hazard] is coming back for Chelsea.

"We have to base ourselves on that overall level of form while benefiting from the added competition provided by the youngsters who are pushing for a place."

Belgium are preparing for a World Cup qualifier against Gibraltar, followed by an away match in Greece.

With a four-point lead over Greece, Group H leaders Belgium are well placed to qualify for the finals in Russia next summer.

Martinez took over following Marc Wilmots' departure after Euro 2016, but there has been speculation that he will quit after the World Cup to return to club management.

But he said: "The rumours don't bother me. It comes with the job. I don't think about that at all. All that counts is to use my experience to the benefit of Belgian football in a humble way and qualify the team for the tournament.

"Last season, I actually had chances to coach at club level, in the Premier League, where I spent seven years. But I love this new job as a national team coach and I'll never turn my back on the Belgian FA.

"When will we talk about a new contract? I would say after the World Cup. But that's a question for the federation."

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

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