Croatia Coach Explains Nikola Kalinic's Sending Home from World Cup

Nikola Kalinic of ACF Fiorentina celebrates after scoring a goal during the Serie A match between ACF Fiorentina and FC Torino at Stadio Artemio Franchi

Dalic revealed that Kalinic also declined to enter a warm-up friendly against Brazil in England earlier this month, and that he said he was too injured to train on Sunday.

The striker reportedly refused to come on as a second half substitute for Mario Mandzukic during Croatia's 2-0 win over Nigeria, and so Dalic instead had to turn to winger Marko Pjaca.

While Iceland and Nigeria are looking forward to that encounter and praying that their performances prove good enough to push them to the next stage, Croatian striker Nikola Kalinic has already ended his world cup campaign after refusing to come in as substitute in match against Nigeria.

However, in a short statement before training at Croatia's base in Roshchino, north-west of Saint Petersburg, Dalic claimed injury was the reason for Kalinic's return to Croatia.

The 30-year-old was starting his fourth successive global match from the bench, told the coach that he had a back injury and was unable to play.

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

World Cup nations are only allowed to replace players in their squads until 24 hours before the start of the tournament, and only then in the event of injury.

Kalinic spent last season at the San Siro, scoring six goals in 41 appearances, after netting 33 times during two seasons with Fiorentina.

With Kalinic now believed to be gone, it means Croatia will have to continue their tournament with just 22 players.