|2018 Fifa World Cup on the BBC|
|Host: Russia Dates: 14 June – 15 July|
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Belgium are set to rest key players for their decisive World Cup Group G clash with England.
The two sides are level on six points with England currently top of the group due to picking up less yellow cards.
However, ahead of Thursday’s match, Belgium’s head of team and individual fitness Richard Evans says the Red Devils are ready to shuffle their pack.
“I think we might be forced to rest some players, we have a couple who have some knocks and bumps,” he explained.
Evans, who has worked with Belgium manager Roberto Martinez for over a decade since the pair were at Swansea City together, says Belgium are looking at the England game as a chance to give valuable minutes to players, with both nations already through to the second round.
“We don’t want to take any risks [on fitness],” Evans told BBC Sport Wales from Moscow.
“I think it is an ideal opportunity to see some players who haven’t played many minutes during the season or possibly during the camp either.
“It is a good chance to give them some match time, because obviously everyone is essential when you have such a small squad to work with on a daily basis.
“I think it will be a great game for us to give to see those players and give them some game time.”
Belgium ‘did not watch’ England
England have been receiving plaudits for Sunday’s thumping 6-1 win over Panama, but Evans, whose father Brian played international football for Wales, says the Belgium squad did not even watch the game.
“We didn’t watch the England game; we had our families across for the weekend, so it was a good chance for us to see them. We all had a BBQ on Saturday evening,” he revealed.
“We’ve had a little bit of downtime and [it helps] to take the pressures away, we’ve been taking in the atmosphere in Moscow. It is a really exciting time.
“We haven’t said too much about England to be honest! We have waved the families off and now it is back to business time.”
Evans did reveal some contact between the two camps, with the lines of communication opened by Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany.
“I know Vincent Kompany spoke to John Stones and Fabian Delph on the phone when we were on the way to the game on Saturday morning,” he said.
“So there is a bit of rivalry and banter flying back and forth, I am sure of it. It should be a great occasion.”
The Welshman plotting Belgium success
Despite being key performers at Euro 2016, Wales failed to qualify for the World Cup, making Evans one of only two key Welsh people involved with the tournament.
The other – England goalkeeping coach Martyn Margetson – will come up against Belgium on Thursday and Evans is relishing the battle with his former Bristol Rovers teammate.
“I’m not aware of too many other Welshman working at the World Cup, I think it is just myself and Martyn Margetson, an ex-teammate of mine at Bristol Rovers… Hopefully we will catch up on Thursday,” he said.
In terms of the honour of being involved at a World Cup, Evans admits it is a career highlight for him.
“It is ironic really, 45-years ago my father was preparing to play against England in a World Cup qualifier and here I am preparing for a World Cup game with England,” he said.
“It is a strange feeling for me really, with my family background; you see yourself at the World Cup and have to say, ‘This football journey has been amazing really.’ I am working with some of the finest players in the world, sometimes you have to pinch yourself.
“And it is more than I ever expected to be be honest with you, it is an absolute carnival, a festival of football.
“The England game will be one of the biggest games I have been involved with really, it is a massive game, at the World Cup, at this level and every game is massive. You feel the tension, it is a huge game.”
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