Nikola Kalinic: Croatia send striker home after back injury claim

19 June, 2018, 04:24 | Author: Anita Tucker
  • Nikola Kalinic of ACF Fiorentina celebrates after scoring a goal during the Serie A match between ACF Fiorentina and SS Lazio at Stadio Artemio Franchi

An own goal by Stoke City's new signing Oghenekaro Etebo opened proceedings in the Group D match, before Luka Modric put Croatia two to the good after slotting home from the spot.

It has emerged that a member of Croatia's World Cup squad has sensationally been "kicked out" after he refused to come on during their 2-0 victory against Nigeria.

Kalinic was an unused substitute against Nigeria with rumours emerging that he refused to go onto the pitch from the bench.

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Dalic revealed that Kalinic also declined to enter a warm-up friendly against Brazil in England earlier this month, and that he said he was too injured to train on Sunday. "However, he then stated that he wasn't ready to come on due to a back issue", said Dalic.

Following widespread reports that Dalic had deemed it necessary to send the former Blackburn Rovers and Fiorentina forward home from the tournament as he needed players who were ready and willing to play, Kalinic's exclusion was confirmed by the head coach in a press conference on Monday afternoon.

Winger Marko Pjaca went on instead, but Dalic apparently wasn't convinced by Kalinic's excuse.

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"I have calmly accepted that, and since I need my players fit and ready to play, I have [to make] this decision".

The incident caps a disappointing year for Kalinic.

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

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After making a positive start to their World Cup campaign, Kalinic's departure will no doubt impact Croatia's preparations, as the 30-year-old was one of only two out-and-out strikers, alongside the man he was suppose to replace - Mandzukic.

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