Mateo Kovacic is reportedly in need of a scan and could be absent for 10 days after missing both of Croatia’s games this week.
Summer signing Kovacic has appeared in all of Manchester City’s games this season, easily settling in and helping the club cope with the loss of Kevin De Bruyne.
However, despite replacing Kalvin Phillips late in the Premier League win over Fulham last week, Kovacic had no role in Croatia’s recent Euro 2024 qualification victories over Latvia and Armenia.
Kovacic confessed between games that he suffered a minor injury, and now Croatian media reports that he could be out for a short time.
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’m 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’s not easy to play every three days, but it’s the way it is, there’s no other way.”
Manager Zlatko Dalic confirmed Kovacic’s absence was precautionary, saying: “Kovačić 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 was relegated to the bench as Croatia struggled to a 1-0 victory in a game that was halted midway through when a drone flew into the stadium in Yerevan.
According to the Croatian publication Jutarnji List, Kovacic was unable to play due to a muscle problem in his back and may need to undergo an MRI exam. According to the article, Kovacic might be out for 10 days or more, ruling him out of City’s Premier League match against West Ham and their first Champions League group stage encounter against Red Star Belgrade.
City will evaluate Kovacic upon his return to Manchester, with Pep Guardiola due to return from his own break on Friday to offer a team news update ahead of the trip to the London Stadium.
John Stones has been missing but may return after the international break, while Jack Grealish has withdrawn from England duty due to a thigh injury but is not anticipated to be out for long.