Croatia right back Sime Vrsaljko may be prevented from playing in Wednesday's semi final against England, due to orders from Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone.
Vrsaljko suffered a knee injury during extra time of his nation's quarter final against Russia, and was swiftly subbed off. Croatia eventually won the match 4-3 on penalties.
Despite remaining in discomfort, Vrsaljko has informed Zlatko Dalic that he wants to play in Wednesday's semi final against England. This is Croatia's first semi final in a major tournament since the 1998 World Cup, so Vrsaljko will be desperate not to miss such a historic fixture.
However, according to reports in the London Evening Standard, the Atletico Madrid hierarchy including manager Diego Simeone are insistent that the 26-year-old misses the match. They fear that if he plays he will further aggravate the injury and damage Atletico's preparations for next season. Vrsaljko had a similar injury back in March 2017, and was unable to play for four months.
The decision will ultimately come down to Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic, and it is likely that he will give little thought to Diego Simeone's demands. Dalic has a reputation as a manager of only picking players who are fully fit, meaning that Vrsaljko dreams of playing in a World Cup semi final remain in the balance.
Atletico manager Simeone should be careful in his advice, that it does not lead to alienating Vrsaljko. Back in 2014, Angel Di Maria was ordered to not play in the 2014 World Cup final by his then club side Real Madrid, this ultimately lead to Di Maria leaving Los Blancos in the summer.
Should Dalic choose not to risk right back Vrsaljko, then former Tottenham defender Vedran Corluka will take his place in the Croatia back four.