Monday, 27th February, 2012

Belgium assistant coach Marc Wilmots has warned Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku that his place in the national team is under threat if he does not play more.

The 18-year-old striker moved to Stamford Bridge last summer, inking a lucrative move from Belgian giants Anderlecht.

There were concerns in Belgium that Lukaku would struggle to hold down a first team spot at Chelsea and could simply spend time kicking his heels on the bench given the array of talents at Andre Villas-Boas’ disposal – and so it has proven, with the forward making only six Premier League appearances.

Lukaku was not even on the bench for Chelsea’s weekend victory over Bolton Wanderers and a number of sides have started to eye loan moves for the youngster for next season.

Wilmots’ intervention then comes at a crucial time, with the former Schalke midfielder genuinely concerned over Lukaku having gone from first team regular at Anderlecht to bit part player at Chelsea.

"Obviously if a player does not play for his club, it is difficult to select him for the national team because you need rhythm, games and confidence which, in September, will be crucial", said Wilmots, looking ahead to the start of Belgium’s qualifying campaign to reach the 2014 World Cup.

"The decision is his.

"But I advise him to find playing time.

"Now, if he is sure he’ll play at Chelsea…it is he who must make the choice."

And Wilmots warned that Lukaku’s international place could be in doubt if his situation does not change.

"It is difficult for us if he does not play with his team.

"We support everyone, but if they don’t play it becomes difficult for us to select them for the national team."

Wilmots has served as Belgium assistant manager since 2009 and has been widely tipped as a future national team boss.

Indeed, the 42-year-old was the favoured choice of ex-coach Dick Advocaat to succeed the Dutchman when he left the role in 2010. Instead the position went to veteran boss Georges Leekens.

   Latest Features:

Follow Inside Futbol on Twitter