Croatia striker Nikola Kalinic sent home after refusing sub role

Croatia striker to be sent home after refusing to come on from the bench against Nigeria

Croatia's FA has not confirmed the AC Milan player's expulsion from the squad, but it is expected that Dalic will do so when he speaks to the media later today.

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.

Two days after their big win over Nigeria in the first round of Group D, troubling news has shaken the Croatia national team - Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić has sent home an unsatisfied Nikola Kalinic.

Kalinic was starting his four consecutive match on the Croatian bench, and he told his manager he could not enter the field because of a complication with his back. "However, he then stated he wasn't ready to come on due to a back issue. I have calmly accepted that, and since I need my players fit and ready to play, I have made this decision", explained Dalic. After the match Dalic had referred to there being a "problem" in the camp but had refused to elaborate.

The incident caps a disappointing year for Kalinic.

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

There was no sign of Kalinic as Croatia trained at their Saint Petersburg base on Sunday ahead of their second Group game against Argentina.

The 30-year-old's absence means Croatia lack a specialist alternative to Mario Mandzukic, although Andrej Kramaric - who started the Nigeria game playing off the Juventus man - can lead the line if needed.

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