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The Independent Online
165 days..

and counting until the start of the World Cup finals in France

There was bad news this week for the Derby County defender, Igor Stimac, when Croatia's coach, Miroslav Blazevic, named a preliminary squad of 30 players for the World Cup finals in France. Stimac, who has spent much of the season injured, was one of three players dropped from the squad. The others were the former Nottingham Forest defender, Nikola Jerkan, and Nikola Jurcevic. "We need some fresh blood to rejuvenate the team," Blazevic said. The three missing men had been discarded, he added, for reasons of lack of form, age and health problems. The squad will be reduced to 22 players in time for the finals.

- Rupert Metcalf