World Cup: Gilles de Bilde says Belgium's senior players need to deliver

Dries Mertens (right) in action for Belgium against Panama
Dries Mertens (right) is one of seven players aged 30 or over in the Belgium squad
England v Belgium
Venue: Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad. Date: Thursday, 28 June at 19:00 BST.
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 live, text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

A number of Belgium players have to deliver at the 2018 World Cup or face retiring without international honours, says former Red Devils striker Gilles de Bilde.

Belgium play England on Thursday in their final Group G game with both teams through to the knockout stage.

Defenders Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen are aged 32, while forward Dries Mertens is 31.

"It's now or never for a lot of these players," De Bilde told the BBC.

Belgium's squad in Russia also includes defender Jan Vertonghen, 31, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, 30, as well as midfielders Marouane Fellaini, 30, and Mousa Dembele, 30.

Manchester City's Kompany is on schedule to make his return to the Belgium side, after missing their first two games with a groin injury picked up in a pre-tournament friendly against Portugal on 2 June.

Vermaelen has also been troubled by a hamstring problem.

"There are a lot of players at this stage in their life where they have to deliver if they want to achieve something," added De Bilde, who was in Belgium's Euro 2000 squad.

"They have the experience at club level. Now they have to show it at country level."

England's Harry Kane and Belgium's Romelu Lukaku have scored nine goals between them at the 2018 World Cup

Romelu Lukaku has four goals in two games in Russia, and De Bilde believes the Manchester United striker can help Belgium go far.

"He's not the most technical and he sometimes has a difficult first touch but he always has one or two goals," said the former Sheffield Wednesday player.

"That's the most important thing for a striker. Maybe we were expecting a bit too much from Lukaku.

"He's not the same as Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo but Lukaku, with his qualities and his way of finishing, he's one of the most important players in the national team."

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