Croatia is the latest country to be stung by the vicious injury bug making the rounds before this summer’s World Cup.
According to reports out of the country, 29-year-old winger Niko Kranjcar will not be available for the tournament after rupturing his hamstring, and will now have to focus on both returning to fitness and sorting out his club situation.
Kranjcar, on loan from Dynamo Kiev, made 29 Championship appearances for Queens Park Rangers this season, started the playoff final against Derby County Saturday.
However, was removed in the 33rd minute after feeling his hamstring pop. He went back to Zagreb for an MRI, which confirmed the injury.
Before his injury, Kranjcar was one of just five players who represented Croatia in their last World Cup, 2006 in Germany.
He owns 81 caps for his country, in which he has 16 goals, some of which have been vitally important. Kranjcar scored the opener in Croatia’s famous 3-2 win over England in Euro 2008 qualification at Wembley, which eliminated the home side from contention and securing the departure of then-England manager and current Derby County boss Steve McClaren.
Kranjcar’s injury only compounds the problems for boss Niko Kovac, who is already dealing with the losses of Ivan Strinic and Ivo Ilicevic.
The frustrating part for Croatia is that Kranjcar had already tweaked his hamstring in the playoff semi-final, but manager Harry Redknapp decided to use him anyways in the final, and the result was a complete tear.
After the semi-final, Redknapp praised his Croatian winger, who he started over young star Ravel Morrison. “I played a bloke called Niko Kranjcar,” Redknapp said. “He’s got something like 86 caps for Croatia and is a fantastic player, a fantastic person and can make things happen. Ravel has done well but I went with Niko. I went for experience – Niko knows the game and I hope he’ll be fit to play at Wembley.”
It’s now time for Kranjcar to determine whether he will return to Dynamo Kiev, stay at QPR, or seek other options.