Croatia drop Nikola Kalinic after he declines to enter as substitute

Florence Fletcher
June 19, 2018

Croatia forward Nikola Kalinic has been sent home from the World Cup after he refused to come on as a substitute during the 2-0 defeat of Nigeria.

Kalinic, 30, who was starting his fourth successive worldwide on the bench, claimed he had a back injury before telling Dalic he was unable to play.

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

Marko Pjaca, nominally a wide player, came on instead and Kalinic's subsequent exit means Croatia have just Mario Mandzukic left within their squad as an out-and-out striker.

He can not be replaced on the squad, so Croatia will continue in the tournament with 22 players.

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Kalinic's removal will come as a blow to Dalic and Croatia for the remainder of the competition as it weakens the striker options for the remainder of the campaign.

Kalinic struggled to find his best form after joining AC Milan from Fiorentina last season, scoring six goals in 31 Serie A appearances. He did the same thing against Brazil and England, saying he wasn't ready, and for yesterday's training session too.

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

An own goal and a Luka Modrić penalty secured three points for Croatia, but problems arose when manager Zlatko Dalić wanted to bring on striker Nikola Kalinić.

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

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