sport

Croatia call for Mocinic

Premier League duo Dejan Lovren and Nikica Jelavic, along with the uncapped Ivan Mocinic, have been included in Croatia's 23-man squad for the World Cup.

Defensive midfielder Mocinic has been selected by coach Niko Kovac after Milan Badelj, who had been included in the preliminary 30-man squad, failed to shake off an injury.

Queens Park Rangers midfielder Niko Kranjcar also misses out after suffering a hamstring injury in last weekend's Championship play-off final win over Derby County.

Ivan Strinic and Ivo Ilicevic are other injury absentees for Croatia, who beat Mali 2-1 in a friendly on Saturday thanks to Ivan Perisic's double.

Explaining his decision to pick Rijeka's Mocinic ahead of Udinese defender Igor Bubnjic, coach Kovac outlined the need for midfield cover.

"We kind of hoped Badelj would be able to make the squad but muscle injuries are always complex and hence we decided to take Mocinic with us because Ognjen Vukojevic is the only other defensive midfielder we have," Kovac told a news conference.

"Badelj took it well, he's been with us for a long time and understands that we must have 23 fully fit players at the World Cup.

"Some of the younger players were obviously disappointed but they are here for the future, while Mocinic earned his spot after a great season with his club and hard work in the build-up training.

"He is young, aggressive and will be an asset."

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric, fresh from winning the Champions League, is included along with the likes of Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic and former Tottenham defender Vedran Corluka.

Croatia face hosts Brazil in the opening game of the World Cup on June 12 before meeting Cameroon and Mexico in Group A.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Stipe Pletikosa (Rostov), Danijel Subasic (Monaco), Oliver Zelenika (Dinamo Zagreb)

Defenders: Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk), Dejan Lovren (Southampton), Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Gordon Schildenfeld, Danijel Pranjic (both Panathinaikos), Domagoj Vida (Dynamo Kiev), Sime Vrsaljko (Genoa)

Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla), Ognjen Vukojevic (Dynamo Kiev), Ivan Perisic (Wolfsburg), Mateo Kovacic (Inter Milan), Marcelo Brozovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Sammir (Getafe), Ivan Mocinic (Rijeka)

Forwards: Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich), Ivica Olic (Wolfsburg), Eduardo (Shakhtar Donetsk), Nikica Jelavic (Hull City), Ante Rebic (Fiorentina)