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England v Croatia: Ivan Rakitić ruled out with injury

Ivan Rakitić (HNS)

Croatia arrived in London on Friday ahead of their UEFA Nations League group decider against England without vice-captain Ivan Rakitić. 

Rakitić has gone back home to Spain and will miss the key clash at Wembley after picking up an injury during Croatia’s 3-2 win against Spain in Zagreb on Thursday. 

Coach Zlatko Dalić confirmed that he would have to find an alternative in the midfield on Sunday when he spoke to the press. 

“Rakitić will go back to Barcelona because we do not want to risk anything. We want healthy and fit players and we have Vlašić, Kovačić, Badelj, Brekalo – we have solutions and we will find the right one and go to Wembley to enjoy our football. We do not have any other problems,” Dalić said, before adding. 

Rakitić limped off in the 68th minute against Spain.

“This beautiful year we played against some great opponents, world and European champions. What is nice than that? However it ends we have to be proud.”

Dalić introduced two youngsters in Vlašić and Brekalo against Spain with both impressing. Vlašić gave the midfield a new energy when he was injected, whilst Brekalo played a hand in the winning goal. 

Josip Brekalo (HNS)

“We have to start slowly preparing places for the youth, but we can not forget the stalwarts. We need to gel in the youngsters,” Dalić said, before turning to Sunday’s opponents. 

“The English are great, young and they already have caused us problems in Moscow and Rijeka, but we won’t be giving up. We respect ourselves, which we show in the pitch. We are on the right path, with the start of the EURO qualifiers in March the most important.”   

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