Vincent Kompany will remain with Belgium’s World Cup squad despite currently being sidelined by a groin injury.
Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez had left it until Sunday, the eve of their campaign, to make the call on Kompany.
The Manchester City defender has not played since suffering the injury in a friendly against Portugal two weeks ago, and he is not expected to be available again before the final group game against England in Kaliningrad on June 28.
“We made the medical decision this morning that we are going to maintain the squad of 23 as announced,” Martinez told reporters at Sochi’s Fisht Stadium, where Belgium play Panama on Monday.
“We are not going to use any changes. Vinny has evolved better than we thought, even though we thought that he could have a good opportunity to be involved in the group phase. Now he has a stronger opportunity.”
Celtic’s Dedryck Boyata is set to play with Tottenham Hotspur pair Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld against Panama, but Martinez said Kompany’s presence remains crucial.
“We see his presence, he is a very valuable part of our squad,” said Martinez. “He has experience, he has know-how. The decision is the 23 we have now will remain.”
Barcelona’s Thomas Vermaelen is struggling to overcome a hamstring problem and stayed at the team’s Moscow base rather than travel to the Black Sea coast for Monday’s fixture.
But stand-by option Laurent Ciman had already been allowed to travel back to Belgium on Saturday.