Belgium manager Marc Wilmots has praised the rise of Tottenham Hotspur defender Toby Alderweireld, insisting the centre-half will be the first name on his list of players he will select for France 2016. The 26-year-old has formed an effective partnership with his former Ajax and current Belgium teammate, Jan Vertonghen, at the heart of Tottenham's defence this season, having joined the club from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2015.
The versatile defender struggled to win a first-team role under Diego Simeone in the Spanish capital in the 2013-14 season but thrived in the Premier League on loan at Southampton last year.
His continued rise in English football has been complemented by his impressive performances for the Red Devils and Wilmots feels the defender will have a vital role to play when Belgium travel to France for next summer's European Championships.
"Who is the first name I put on my list for France? Toby Alderweireld. He has greatly improved and is versatile. He is one of the most consistent players in the national team," Wilmots told reporters, Het Nieuwsblad reports.
Belgium currently sit atop of Fifa's world rankings after finishing top of their European Championship qualifying group. Alderweireld was selected for upcoming friendlies against Italy and Spain along with Spurs teammates Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele as part of a strong core of Premier League-based players, who included Liverpool's Simon Mignolet and Christian Benteke, Manchester City's Kevin de Bruyne and Vincent Kompany, Chelsea's Eden Hazard, and Everton's Romelu Lukaku.
Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini was initially named in the squad but was forced to withdraw, having suffered a calf injury ahead of United's 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion.