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Van Buyten retires

European Championship Aug 14, 2014
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ESPN FC Posted by ESPN staff
Aug 13, 2014

Thibaut Courtois stays Belgium No. 1

ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop weighs in on the upcoming goalkeeping battle between Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois.

Belgium boss Marc Wilmots has told Het Nieuwsblad that Thibaut Courtois remains his first-choice goalkeeper despite uncertainty over his position at Chelsea.

- Lowe: Costa perfect for Chelsea
- Lythell: Chelsea season preview
- Head-to-head: Courtois or Cech

Courtois will be looking to be the Blues' new No. 1 after returning from his loan spell at Atletico Madrid, but Petr Cech remains on the books and manager Jose Mourinho said after his side's 2-0 victory over Real Sociedad on Tuesday that the Belgian was not certain to start against Burnley on Monday.

"I played Thibaut for 90 minutes because he was injured and didn't play last weekend," Mourinho said on the club's official website. "Petr played two matches in Turkey and the first half against Ferencvaros. Since he arrived Courtois has only played 45 minutes against Werder Bremen -- he needs to play.

"The fact Courtois played 90 minutes wasn't me saying he's first choice for Monday. It's because he didn't play the last three matches."

He added that the keepers would only be told who was first choice on Sunday.

Nonetheless, Wilmots insists Courtois will keep his place in the Belgium side for the start of their Euro 2016 qualification campaign despite competition for his place from Liverpool's Simon Mignolet.

"Courtois certainly remains No. 1 until December," Wilmots said. "If he really does end up on the bench, I will have another look at the situation around New Year, but I will start the campaign with him as No. 1."

However, Wilmots said that he found it "difficult" to include players who did not feature regularly for their clubs.

"My principle is that players have to play sufficiently for their club if they are to be eligible for the national team," he said, adding that -- unlike at the World Cup -- they could not build up their match rhythm during their time with the Red Devils.

"Now we only have three days to prepare, so they have to play for their club," he said, although he admitted exceptions may be made.

Wilmots also said that Belgium are lacking attacking players of the very highest calibre, such as Netherlands' Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie.

He expressed hope that his "young" team -- particularly the likes of Eden Hazard, 23 -- would ultimately reach the top but said: "We have a group of European-class attackers, not world-class."

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