Chelsea attacker Mateo Kovacic has withdrawn from Croatia’s squad for Euro 2020 qualifiers with Slovakia and Azerbaijan after picking up an injury at the weekend. Croatia international, who was the only signing the Blues were allowed to make this summer due to their transfer ban, has quickly established himself under new coach Lampard.
Mateo has started all but one of London club’s five games in all tournaments this campaign, though was subbed off after 84 minutes of the 2-2 draw with Sheffield United on the weekend.
Although it is hoped Kovacic has not suffered anything severe, the injury is significant enough that Mateo will be unable to play any part in Croatia’s upcoming games during the international break.
The 25-year-old midfielder inflamed an Achilles tendon in his right leg during the game with Sheffield Utd, with Croatia calling up Mijo Caktas instead. Kovacic already played five matches and provided one assist in this season.
Blues have a history with Achilles injuries, with both Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi missing the start of the new campaign after rupturing the tendon. Both footballers were sidelined for months, though Croatian star’s injury is not serious and can usually be fully healed within a few weeks.
English manager was criticised for withdrawing Mateo at the weekend, with the visitors scoring their equaliser a few minutes later, but defended the decision, saying the player ‘was on his haunches, tired’. The news is bad for Croatia as much as the London club, with the side in need of points if they are to qualify from Euro 2020.