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Soccer-Gvardiol out of Croatia squad for Nations League

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(Reuters) – Croatia defender Josko Gvardiol has failed to recover from injury and will miss this week’s Nations League finals in the Netherlands, the Croatian Football Federation said at the weekend.

Gvardiol, 21, had spent last week undergoing intensive treatment on a stomach injury but Croatia’s medical staff determined that he would not be able to recover in time to compete in the four-nation tournament.

Croatia meet their Dutch hosts in Rotterdam on Wednesday in the first semi-final, with Spain and Italy in the second semi in Enschede on Thursday. The winners compete in Sunday’s final.

Gvardiol’s absence will be a blow to Croatia, for whom he was an outstanding performer when they reached the World Cup semi-finals in Qatar late last year.

The 21-year-old Dion Drena Beljo, who plays in the Bundesliga for Augsburg, has been named as the replacement in the 23-man squad, the federation added.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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