Sunday, 23 September, 2018

Refusal to play Eagles: Kalinic sent packing

Nikola Kalinic of AC Milan celebrates his goal during the serie A match between AC Milan and ACF Fiorentina at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza Croatia striker to be sent home after refusing to come on from the bench against Nigeria
Isaac Mcdaniel | 19 June, 2018, 23:26

Zlatko Dalic said he took the decision after Croatia's 2-0 victory over Nigeria in their opening Group D fixture because he needs his players "fit and ready to play".

A press conference has been called for 16:15 this afternoon, when it is expected that Kalinić's expulsion from the squad will be confirmed.

The 30-year-old was starting his fourth successive worldwide match from the bench, told the coach that he had a back injury and was unable to play. "I need fit players who are ready to play and I sent him home as he is not ready", said Dalic on Monday.

Kalinic had been asked to enter the match in the 85th minute but refused to do so, citing a back injury.

Kalinic reportedly complained about a back problem, according to media outlet 24sata, but it clearly didn't go down well. He did the same thing against Brazil and England, saying he wasn't ready, and for yesterday's training session too.

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

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The 30-year-old can not be replaced, meaning Croatia will have to make do with only 22 players for the rest of the tournament.

West Ham United boss Manuel Pellegrini is said to be keen to snap up Nikola Kalinic.

Mario Mandzukic, Andrej Kramaric, Ante Rebic and Marko Pjaca remain available for selection for Dalic.

Kalinic, the AC Milan striker who once upon a time represented Blackburn Rovers, was a substitute during the encounter.

Croatia's remaining group games are against Argentina on Thursday and Iceland one week from tomorrow.

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