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09th Jul 2018

Three key Croatian players miss training ahead of semi-final against England

This might make Gareth Southgate's task easier

Darragh Murphy

England’s players are going to insist that they want to face the best of the best but they surely won’t complain if some of Croatia’s most important players miss out on the semi-final.

England will be rewarded with a place in the World Cup final with a victory over Croatia and Gareth Southgate’s task might be end up being slightly easier because three crucial member’s of Croatia’s defensive unit didn’t train on Monday.

Goalkeeper Danijel Subašić and defenders Dejan Loven and Šime Vrsaljko didn’t take part in training at the Luzhniki Stadium complex just two days ahead of their clash with England.

Subašić suffered a hamstring injury late on in regulation time when Croatia squeezed past hosts Russia in the quarter-final and while the stopper saw out extra time and even saved Fedor Smolov’s penalty in the shootout, he’s still not 100 per cent.

Liverpool’s Lovren skipped training as a precaution and could well return for the England game although Vrsaljko may struggle to return in time for Wednesday’s match, having been replaced by Vedran Corluka in extra time against Russia.

From England’s point of view, Jordan Henderson is a doubt to start against Croatia due to a hamstring strain but, thankfully, the quarter-final victory over Sweden was less taxing than the 120 minutes against Colombia in the Round of 16.

“They’ve been through a lot,” Southgate said. “More so the other night coming into today. But of course you get an accumulation of fatigue through a tournament that’s why we took the decision we did against Belgium more than anything.

“So we’ll just have to assess people as we go. Hendo was another one who was feeling tightness in his hamstring, which was why we made the change. We’ll just have to assess the bodies.”