According to the latest reports, Croatian defenders Nikola Katic and Borna Barisic have both been ruled out of their international assignments due to injuries. Katic has withdrawn his name from Croatian u-21 side, and Barisic is struggling to be in contention for the much-anticipated tie against Gareth Southgate’s England side. Croatian national team posted on their official Twitter account that Katic has withdrawn his name, but it is yet not clear the extent of his injury.
Croatian manager Zlatko Dalić recently gave an update on the senior team players and said,”The situation is not good, Marcelo Brozovic did not play on Sunday for Inter, Borna Barisic has a rupture of muscle, Ivan Santini still has a great crank on his leg since the game with Dinamo, Lovre Kalinić has big problems with his knee. This is the current situation, and for a few hours I will know who we will count on and whether I will call new players.”
Barisic has featured just twice in the last six games for the Teddy Bears. In the tie against Villarreal, the left back had to be substituted in the second half because of a hamstring issue, and now it seems like he is down again with a muscle rupture.
Maybe both of them were struggling with fitness off late, and that’s why the Croatian pair didn’t feature at all in the last two games before the international break where the Gers came out triumphant against Rapid Wien and Hearts. In our opinion, when fit, Barisic should be a nailed on starter for the left back role. It seems likely that Steven Gerrard was trying to protect him in the last two games so that he doesn’t aggravate his injury further.
One cannot say the same about Katic regarding a starting lineup berth as we have seen Gerrard preferring Joe Worrall over Katic recently. The Croatian centre-back hasn’t done badly at all since he joined the club so he would be slightly disappointed to miss out in the last few games. However, with cup competition, European assignment and league competition to play in, Katic is undoubtedly going to get his chances in some games to showcase his worth once again.
The Gers would hope that their injuries aren’t too severe and the international break should come to their rescue as they can have close to ten days of rest and recovery. It remains to be seen whether that would be enough to get them back to full fitness. The Gers have got a decent amount of bench strength so they should be able to cope in those positions for now. But the sooner they return, the better it would be for Gerrard and Co.