BRUSSELS, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Injured striker Christian Benteke was included in Belgium's squad by coach Marc Wilmots on Thursday in the hope that he will recover in time for their final 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Croatia and Wales.
Benteke suffered a hip injury playing for his Premier League side Aston Villa on Sept. 21 and was initially ruled out for between four and six weeks.
However, the Belgian FA's medical team visited Birmingham earlier this week and said the injury appeared to be healing faster than expected.
Belgium top Group A with 22 points and a draw in Zagreb against second-placed Croatia on Friday Oct. 11 will guarantee the Belgians a place in the finals for the first time in 12 years.
Even if they lose, they would still secure an automatic place with victory at home against Wales four days later.
Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany and Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen have also been recalled after both missed the 2-0 win over Scotland last month due to injury.
Chelsea's Eden Hazard and Everton Kevin Mirallas retained their places despite minor ankle injuries.
Goalkeepers: Koen Casteels (Hoffenheim), Thibaut Courtois (Atletico Madrid), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool)
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Atletico Madrid), Laurent Ciman (Standard Liege), Guillaume Gillet (Anderlecht), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Nicolas Lombaerts (Zenit St Petersburg), Sebastien Pocognoli (Hannover 96), Daniel Van Buyten (Bayern Munich), Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Nacer Chadli (Tottenham Hotspur), Steven Defour (Porto), Moussa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Timmy Simons (Club Bruges), Axel Witsel (Zenit St Petersburg)
Strikers: Zakaria Bakkali (PSV Eindhoven), Christian Benteke (Aston Villa), Kevin De Bruyne (Chelsea), Eden Hazard (Chelsea) Romelu Lukaku (Everton), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Kevin Mirallas (Everton) (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Justin Palmer)