Nikola Kalinic: Croatia send striker home after back injury claim

Croatia boss Zlatko Dalic giving instructions on a touchline

Croatia boss Zlatko Dalic giving instructions on a touchline

Kalinic refused the assignment because of a back injury, but Dalic was undaunted in his dismissal of the player.

Confirmation will likely come when coach Zlatko Dalic, who has preferred Mario Mandzukic and Andrej Kramaric up front, gives a press conference later today (Monday).

Dalic said in a statement that he had asked Kalinic to come on as an 85th-minute substitute in the 2-0 win over Nigeria on Saturday, but the AC Milan forward declined after warming up, citing a back injury.

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"If Nigeria must make any good impact against Iceland come June 22 in St. Petersburg Stadium, Russia, then our technical adviser must fortify our midfield and defence to be better than what we witnessed against Croatia, " he said.

Kalinic has played 41 times for Croatia, scoring 15 goals, but he last started for the national side in 2017. "I need fit players who are ready to play and I sent him home as he is not ready", said Dalic on Monday. He did the same thing against Brazil and England, saying he wasn't ready, and for yesterday's training session too.

Abara, who gave the advice in an interview with the Newsmen on Monday in Minna lamented the 0-2 loss to Croatia in their opening game of the ongoing World Cup in Russian Federation.

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Kalinic's exit has since exposed Croatia's lack of attacking options, with Mandzukic the only out-and-out striker available in their squad.

There was no sign of Kalinic as Croatia trained at their Saint Petersburg base on Sunday ahead of their second Group game against Argentina.

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