Croatia drop Nikola Kalinic after he declines to enter as substitute

Jun 19, 2018, 04:23
Croatia drop Nikola Kalinic after he declines to enter as substitute

Once of Blackburn Rovers, Kalinic, who scored just six goals in 41 appearances for Milan on loan this season but will now cost the Rossoneri €25m as part of an obligatory agreement to buy from Fiorentina, hasn't started any of Croatia's last four internationals.

Croatia's World Cup campaign has been rocked by the news that Nikola Kalinic has been sent home following the match with Nigeria on Saturday, and coach Zlatko Dalic has confirmed that the forward isn't fit and ready to play.

Reports from Russian Federation suggested that Kalinic refused to go on as a sub in the 85th minute against Nigeria when requested, telling Dalic at the time that he had a sore back.

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Kalinic, who now plays for Fiorentina but spent last season on loan at AC Milan, has been linked with a move away from Italy in recent weeks but these actions could hamper a move. After the match Dalic had referred to there being a "problem" in the camp but had refused to elaborate. According to Dalic, it wasn't the first time he had invoked an injury to not come off the bench.

"The same thing happened during the Brazil friendly in England, as well as before the practice session on Sunday".

Dalic did not answer any further questions or go into the matter any further.

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However, Dalic wouldn't comment on his motives, saying only: "I need my players fit and ready to play".

Kalinic has helped the Croatian side to success in recent years, including scoring in the team's upset win over Spain in the group stage of Euro 2016.

Croatia are back in action against Argentina in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday.

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If the reports are indeed true, Croatia will only have one natural number their squad, Mario Mandzukic.