Croatia star Rakitic ruled out of England clash

Zlatko Dalic will be without key midfielder Ivan Rakitic for the Nations League clash away to England, the Croatia coach said.

Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic   -  Getty Images

Ivan Rakitic is out of Croatia's crunch Nations League clash with England, coach Zlatko Dalic has confirmed. Rakitic was substituted during the second half of Croatia's dramatic 3-2 victory at home to Spain on Thursday, with Tin Jedvaj hitting a 93rd-minute winner.

That result set up a decider against England at Wembley on Sunday, but Rakitic will be unable to play due to his injury. "I asked for the change because I had discomfort," Rakitic said after the Spain win.

Croatia will qualify for the finals of the inaugural Nations League if it beats England in a repeat of the World Cup semi-final, but will be relegated to League B if it loses.

Dalic confirmed the injury news at Zagreb airport, with Barcelona midfielder Rakitic set to return to his club for treatment.

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"He will go to Barcelona because there is an injury. You know my practice not to risk [players] if there is anything suspicious," Dalic told reporters.

"We want healthy and ready players, Ivan Rakitic at the moment is not a hundred per cent ready for the game, so unfortunately, we go without him."

"We've got [Nikola] Vlasic, [Mateo] Kovacic, [Josip] Brekalo, we have [Milan] Badelj, we always have solutions. We'll look for another solution and that will be fine, I hope."

Rakitic's injury is also bad news for Barcelona, although he is unavailable for their next LaLiga game, away to title rival Atletico Madrid a week on Saturday. He was sent off in Barca's last match, a 4-3 reverse at home to Real Betis, so he will be serving a suspension.

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