With Mignolet as backup, Belgium looking good

BRUSSELS (AP) Simon Mignolet's outstanding form for Liverpool in the English Premier League has earned him a rare start in goal for Belgium's upcoming friendlies against Colombia and Japan.

And Belgium coach Marc Wilmots knows how important it is to have a good second goalkeeper around in case Thibaut Courtois is unfit.

Wilmots had already promised Mignolet the spot for Thursday's game against Colombia and next Tuesday's match against Japan before Atletico Madrid keeper Courtois twisted his ankle this week.

Even though it is clear Courtois still is the No. 1 choice, Mignolet plans to make the fight as tough as possible.

"Hopefully I can do well and show myself again in those two games," the Liverpool keeper said.

What's even better, he came into training camp after a 4-0 win over Fulham last weekend.

"It's always nice to arrive with the national team after a great victory and a clean sheet," Mignolet said.

With a series of great results, Belgium has shot up the FIFA rankings to fifth place.

Courtois has been Wilmots' choice throughout the qualifying campaign, and kept six clean sheets as they sealed qualification for the finals.

Belgium has a good tradition when it comes to World Cup goalkeepers. Jean-Marie Pfaff was voted the best World Cup keeper in 1986 and Michel Preud'homme took that honor eight years later.

Wilmots said Tuesday that the injury to Courtois was not that serious at first sight. He got a foot trapped in his netting during training late Monday.

"He tweaked a ligament and will take an MRI (scan)," Wilmots said. "Let's wait for the results. But in any case it was not too, too bad."

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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