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Kovac rues Kranjcar blow

May 27, 2014 10:01:56 UK

Croatia manager Niko Kovac has already lost three players to injury.

Croatia have suffered a major blow just over two weeks before the start of the World Cup after Niko Kranjcar was ruled out of the tournament.

The 29-year-old faces a spell on the sidelines after sustaining a hamstring injury during QPR’s Championship play-off final victory against Derby County on Saturday.

The former Portsmouth and Tottenham midfielder has represented his country on 81 occasions and his absence from the squad is a serious setback for Croatia’s hopes of qualifying from their group.

Kranjcar has been on loan at QPR this season from Dynamo Kiev and scored two goals and 30 Championship appearances for Harry Redknapp’s team.

I needed Niko with his experience and good shape but we have to go on.

Niko Kovac

The Croatian Football Association announced that an MRI scan in Zagreb had confirmed that the midfielder would be unable to regain match fitness in time to feature in Brazil.

National team doctor Boris Nemec said: “The rupture is some inches wide and will need between four and six weeks to heal.”

Meanwhile, Croatia manager Niko Kovac said: “I’m extremely sorry for Niko – he is one of the most experienced players in our squad and he deserved to be part of it in Brazil.

“I needed Niko with his experience and good shape but we have to go on.”

FC Dnipro Ivan Strinic and Hamburger SV’s Ivo Ilicevic have aleady been forced to withdraw from Croatia’s World Cup squad.

Croatia are 23.00 to cause a major shock by beating Brazil 1-0 in the opening game of the tournament on 12th June and can be backed at 2.00 to qualify from Group A.

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