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Liverpool (H) Sat 7 Feb 2015, 17:30, Barclays Premier League

Mirallas Braced For Big Stage

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

Kevin Mirallas will be hoping to start for Belgium when the Red Devils open their World Cup campaign against Algeria this evening (kick off 5pm UK time).

The winger played a key role in qualification for the tournament in Brazil and his chances of making Marc Wilmots' starting line-up have seemingly been boosted with the news that ex-Chelsea forward Kevin de Bruyne is nursing an ankle injury.

Another familiar face expected to start is Romelu Lukaku, the former Blues loanee having overcome an ankle problem of his own, picked up during Belgium's final pre-tournament warm-up game against Tunisia.

Following a 12-year absence from major international competition, Belgium have been widely tipped as a dark horse in South America and go into the tournament on the back of three successive friendly victories.

Boasting a plethora of Premier League stars, including Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany, Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen, Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen and Moussa Dembele, Chelsea's Eden Hazard and Manchester United's former Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini, the Belgians also cruised through qualifying, winning eight games and losing none as they finished nine points clear of nearest rivals Croatia.

Mirallas, however, isn't getting ahead of himself.

"A lot of the talk back home is that we've got an easy group and we'll easily progress but we are keeping our feet very much on the ground,’ he said. ‘All we are concentrating on at the moment is getting out of the group because it won't be easy.

"You have to consider we are a young group and only [Daniel] van Buyten has played in a World Cup. You have to be honest and say that experience is important in these tournaments. We can't get carried away."

Mirallas would become the fifth Everton player to appear in Brazil after Tim Howard helped the USA to a 2-1 win over Ghana last night.

The victory, courtesy of goals from Clint Dempsey and substitute John Brooks, put Jurgen Klinsmann's side second in Group G behind his native Germany, and the striker-turned-coach was thrilled with the outcome.

"It was a grind, but it was a wonderful win at the end of the day," he enthused. "We got the three points that we badly wanted.

"All over the field, it was a very dynamic game, a game where chances were created on both sides.

"But I always saw opportunities coming as we played quickly in transition."

Look out on later to find out how Belgium and Mirallas fare. You can also follow live updates via our official Twitter feed, @Everton.

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