Belgium midfielder Kevin De Bruyne is optimistic that the nasty facial injury he suffered in the Champions League final will not prevent him from going to the European Championships this summer.
De Bruyne was on the end of a sickening body check from Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger, with the Manchester City man later confirming that he had fractured both his nose and his eye socket.
While a mask is the preferred option for a broken nose, things are a little more uncertain when it comes to an eye socket injury, which is harder to protect and can be far more complicated if something goes wrong.
Fortunately, The Times note that De Bruyne believes he will still be capable of playing in the tournament and he will likely need to wear a mask all summer to have any chance of competing safely.
A concern is that De Bruyne may not be ready to play in the early stages of the competition. Belgium kick things off against Russia on June 12, but there are some fears that the midfielder could miss that fixture and perhaps more.
While Belgium’s stance has not yet been confirmed, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see De Bruyne put in a special mask for the tournament. Over in the NBA, Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid channelled his inner Phantom of the Opera with a full face mask to protect himself after fracturing his eye socket this season, so it’s clearly an option.
Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has publicly condemned Rudiger for the incident, which was clearly deliberate but in no way designed to leave any lasting damage on the City man. Blocking players is nothing new but De Bruyne was simply unfortunate to collide with Rudiger’s shoulder at just the wrong angle.
“I’m really sorry for De Bruyne’s injury,” Rudiger wrote on Twitter after the diagnosis was confirmed. “Of course this was not intentional from me.
“I’ve already been in touch with Kevin personally and I really wish him a speedy recovery and hope we can see him back on the pitch again very soon.”