World Cup 2018: Croatia striker Nikola Kalinic sent home in disgrace after refusing to play in Nigeria win

Croatia forward Nikola Kalinic sent home from 2018 World Cup after refusing to play against Nigeria

Croatia striker Nikola Kalinic has been sent home in disgrace after Croatia’s 2-0 win on Saturday night.

The former Blackburn forward was left on the bench by his national team boss Zlatko Dalic for the fourth successive game, against Nigeria.

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Despite the most comfortable of wins for Dalic’s men though, Kalinic was asked to enter the field of play in the second half – and he refused.

After the win in Kaliningrad, the Croatia manager told reporters they finished the match with ‘a problem’, believed to be referring to the incident involving Kalinic.

World Cup Group D (PA)

Kalinic complained of a back problem, but the 30-year-old’s claims fell on deaf ears and he was not training on Sunday with the rest of the camp.

A decision was made later on Sunday to send the on-loan AC Milan striker home, leaving Mario Mandzukic the only out-and-out striker available to Dalic.

The manager told a press conference: “During the Nigeria encounter, Kalinic was warming up and was supposed to come on in the second half.

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“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 has 41 caps and 15 goals for his country and joined AC Milan, on loan with an obligation to buy, from Fiorentina last summer.