Why Mateo Kovacic didn’t play for Croatia on international duty as Man City given injury scare

Summer signing Kovacic has played in all of Manchester City&aposs fixtures this season, settling in quickly and helping to deal with the loss of Kevin De Bruyne.

However, after coming off for Kalvin Phillips late in the Premier League win over Fulham last week, Kovacic played no part in either of Croatia&aposs Euro 2024 qualifying wins over Latvia and Armenia in the last five days.

Kovacic admitted between the fixtures that he had a slight injury issue, and now Croatian media report he could be set for a short spell on the sidelines.

After remaining on the bench against Latvia, Kovacic told media that he had not featured due to injury, but was ready to face Armenia on Monday night.

“I had some problems before the match with Latvia, but now I&aposm ready,” he said. “But I will try to do the last training to the maximum, and the coach will decide. The most ready will play. It&aposs not easy to play every three days, but it&aposs the way it is, there&aposs no other way.”

Manager Zlatko Dalic confirmed Kovacic&aposs absence was precautionary, saying: Kovai and [Lovro] Majer might have played against Latvia, but we wanted to preserve them. If Mateo is ready, he will be in the starting line-up, while Lovro will be among the substitutes.

However, Kovacic did not start against Armenia and remained among the substitutes again as Croatia battled to a 1-0 win in a game stopped part-way through when a drone flew into the stadium in Yerevan. AP report that the drone was carrying the flag of Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway Armenian-populated region of Azerbaijan.

Croatian outlet Jutarnji List said after the game that Kovacic was unable to feature due to a muscle injury in his back, and may have to undergo an MRI scan. The report says Kovacic could miss 10 days, or longer, which would keep him out of City&aposs Premier League trip to West Ham and first Champions League group stage game against Red Star Belgrade.