Croatia striker Nikola Kalinic has been sent home from the World Cup in disgrace after refusing to come on as a substitute during their 2-0 victory over Nigeria.
Kalinic started on the bench for the fourth successive international match but was asked to enter the fray by boss Zlatko Dalic in the closing stages of the Group D clash in Kaliningrad.
However, according to reports in Croatia, the striker declined his manager’s orders, citing a problem with his back.
The Croatia boss was forced to turn to Marko Pjaca, who is nominally a wide player, to come on in place of forward Mario Mandzukic.
Speaking in the wake of Saturday’s win, Dalic told reporters that the team had finished the game without injuries but ‘with a problem’.
It is understood Dalic was unconvinced by the 30-year-old’s claim and has now subsequently opted to dismiss him.
There was no sign of Kalinic as Croatia trained at their Saint Petersburg base on Sunday ahead of their second Group game against Argentina.
It seems the decision was later taken to axe the AC Milan forward with Kalinic believed to be taking the first flight back home from Russia this week.
Kalinic’s exit has since exposed Croatia’s lack of attacking options, with Mandzukic the only out-and-out striker available in their squad.
The Croatian Football Association has not yet confirmed Kalinic’s expulsion but Dalic is set to clarify the situation later on Monday at a press conference.
Kalinic’s dismissal from the Croatian squad comes amid rumours linking him with a move to Sevilla, which could now be in jeopardy in light of this news.
The 30-year-old is no stranger to controversy, having skipped a week of Fiorentina training last summer in efforts to push a move through to Milan.