Refusal to play Eagles: Kalinic sent packing

Refusal to play Eagles: Kalinic sent packing

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 emerged earlier on Monday that Kalinic had refused to come off the bench during his country's opening 2-0 win over Nigeria in Group D, citing his back complaint.

Kalinic reportedly complained about a back problem, according to media outlet 24sata, but it clearly didn't go down well.

Speaking after Saturday's match, Dalic told reporters his side had finished the 90 minutes without injuries but "with a problem".

The Croatia boss was forced to turn to Marko Pjaca, who is nominally a wide player, to come on in place of forward Mario Mandzukic.

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It is understood Dalic was unconvinced by the 30-year-old's claim and has now subsequently opted to dismiss him.

Croatia faces Argentina this Thursday and according to Federation Internationale de Football Association rules, no replacement for Kalinic will be allowed meaning Dalic will have 22 players at his disposal under the end of the tournament.

Croatia face Argentina in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday, and it looks as though Dalic will prepare for the fixture with the disadvantage of being able to call upon only 22 players.

Dalic told a press conference this afternoon of his decision: "During the Nigeria encounter, Kalinic was warming up and was supposed to come on in the second half".

It seems the decision was later taken to axe the AC Milan forward with Kalinic believed to be taking the first flight back home from Russian Federation this week.

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