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Mar 30, 2011

Belgium play down talk of Hazard spat

Belgium coach Georges Leekens and his assistant Marc Wilmots have denied that they have fallen out with in-demand Lille starlet Eden Hazard.

Despite being regarded as one of Belgium and Europe's most talented players, Hazard was an unused substitute in his country's Euro 2012 qualifying win against Austria on Friday and played just 30 minutes of Tuesday's victory over Azerbaijan.

The apparent snub from Leekens has led to fervent speculation in the French and Belgian press that he has a problem with Hazard, whose work rate and application has been publicly questioned by the coach before.

But Leekens moved to quash any talk of a spat by insisting that Hazard's omisson was for the greater good of the team.

"Eden is a man of action, but the fact he did no play against Austria was only because of the balance I wanted for the team," Leekens said.

"I work with a large group of about 25 players and the collective takes precedence, the players must accept that the team is more important than personal success."

Wilmots echoed Leekens' sentiments, though he suggested that Hazard did not try hard enough in training and recommended that the Lille winger "should have less fun".

"There is no Eden Hazard problem," Wilmots said. "We are building a squad and we are making choices. Eden remains a very important element, as do other ones.

"In the group he is well present, never late, but maybe he could show more rigour and desire during training sessions. Maybe he should have less fun, even if it is his asset.

"I know in France he is number one, but so far we are trying to find the more competitive team. But don't be afraid, we know Eden Hazard's quality."

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