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By ESPN Staff

Unhappy Croatia coach Bilic laments injury crisis

Croatia coach Slaven Bilic has to cope with an injury crisis as his side know even victory over Kazakhstan will probably not be enough to secure a World Cup play-off place.

• Carter: The final countdown

Ukraine's victory over England at the weekend left them favourites to finish runners-up behind Fabio Capello's side in Group Six. Even if Bilic's side win against Kazakhstan in Astana they will still be looking for Andorra to defeat Ukraine, an unlikely prospect for a side which has conceded 33 goals in nine straight qualifying defeats.

As England were losing 1-0 in Dnipropetrovsk, a depleted Croatia completed a 3-2 friendly win over Qatar in Rijeka with a last-minute goal from Nikica Jelavic.

With Ivica Olic picking up a foot injury in training, Bilic has seen his striking options further hit and decided to call up Sporting Gijon forward Mate Bilic ahead of the Kazakhstan game.

Bilic said: ''Of the five attackers who we have mainly rotated during this qualifying cycle, we are missing four - Dudu, Petric, Olic and Kalinic - and we decided to call up Mate Bilic.''

Bilic will be without the injured Luka Modric, Ivan Juric, Hrvoje Vejic, Mladen Petric and Stipe Pletikosa and was unable to field Eduardo and Josip Simunic against Qatar. Niko Kranjcar, Mario Mandzukic, Danijel Pranjic and Dario Srna all played some part in the friendly despite suffering from injuries.

Tottenham midfielder Kranjcar admitted defeat at home to England and draws against Ukraine would probably ultimately cost them a trip to South Africa.

He told the Tottenham website: ''We are disappointed with our campaign, especially the home defeat to England and the two draws with Ukraine, they are the games we felt we should have got more from and that would have made a big difference.''

Ukraine coach Alexiy Mykhaylychenko knows victory in Andorra La Vella will see his side make the play-offs but he was trying to keep expectations in check following Serhiy Nazarenko's winner against England.

Mykhaylychenko said: ''We still have a game to win but we have given ourselves the best possible chance.''

England will be without Wayne Rooney for the final qualifier against Belarus at Wembley.

Manchester United striker Rooney pulled out of the squad with a calf injury but his absence could give a chance to Aston Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor to push his claims for a place in Capello's squad for the finals in South Africa.


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