Croatia send striker Kalinic home

Croatia striker Nikola Kalinic has been sent home from Russia after refusing to come on as a substitute during their 2-0 win over Nigeria.

Croatia will now have to play out the rest of their World Cup with only 22 players as the 30-year-old AC Milan striker cannot be replaced.

Kalinic told team management that he had a back injury, but coach Zlatko Dalic was not impressed.

“I need my players fit and ready to play,” he said.

“During the Nigeria encounter, Kalinic was warming up and was supposed to come on in the second half,” Dalic added.

“However, he then stated that he wasn’t ready to come on due to a back issue.

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

“I have calmly accepted that and since I need my players fit and ready to play, I have made this decision.”

Kalinic was on loan at Milan from Fiorentina last year, and scored six goals in 41 appearances.
The move was made permanent before the World Cup.

Kalinic, has 15 goals in 41 appearances for his country, but had started his last four international games on the bench.

Croatia’s final two Group D matches are against Argentina on Thursday before they face Iceland on Tuesday.