Soccer-World-Croatia penpix of likely squad for World Cup finals

April 28 (Reuters) - Croatia's squad for the World Cup finals is likely to comprise the following 23 players. Goalkeepers: Stipe Pletikosa (Rostov) Age 35; 109 caps. Still Croatia's first choice keeper despite patchy form in recent years. Known as a good penalty-taker, he scored four goals at his first club Hajduk Split where he was nicknamed 'The Octopus' for his shot-stopping reflexes. Struggles with deep crosses. Danijel Subasic (Monaco) Age 29; 6 caps. International chances for Pletikosa's back-up have been few and far between but he flourished at club level after joining Monaco in January 2012. Lovre Kalinic (Hajduk Split) Age 24; 0 caps. Likely to be picked as cover for the World Cup in Brazil after winning two Croatian cups with his club in 2010 and 2013. It took him a while to find his feet at senior level. Defenders: Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow) Age 28; 71 caps. Has lost some agility and hence moved to the centre of defence from right back at club and international level. Still an automatic starter for Croatia and his experience gained in England at Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur among others, should be a telling factor in the World Cup. Domagoj Vida (Dynamo Kiev) Age 25; 21 caps. Earned a move to one of Ukraine's top teams after good performances at Dinamo Zagreb, where he won two successive Croatian league titles. He is another tough-tackling and versatile defender who can play either as right back or centre half. Gordon Schildenfeld (Panathinaikos), on loan from Dynamo Moscow) Age 29; 20 caps. On loan from Dynamo Moscow, the journeyman has played for a myriad of European clubs since he moved from Dinamo Zagreb in 2008. Found some consistency at Panathinaikos this season and is likely to be used as cover in the World Cup. Ivan Strinic (Dnipro Dnipopetrovsk) Age 26; 32 caps. Made the left back slot his own before Euro 2012 and has held it since. Fairly quick and delivers good crosses into the penalty box, he should get the nod ahead of Danijel Pranjic. Danijel Pranjic (Panathinaikos) Age 33; 49 caps. Quit international football after Euro 2012, but returned for the World Cup playoff against Iceland and stood in well for the injured Strinic. Can also play as a left-sided midfielder but his club career has declined since he moved from Bayern Munich in 2012. Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk) Age 32; 111 caps. Croatia's captain has been a pillar in the past decade and his raids down the right flank were instrumental in qualifying. Good from set pieces, has excellent vision and pulls the strings along with Luka Modric. Scored 21 international goals and has played more than 404 games his club winning seven Ukrainian league titles and five cups. Dejan Lovren (Southampton) Age 24; 24 caps. Occasional costly errors blighted the talented central defender's career before his 2013 move from French side Olympique Lyonnais to the Premier League, where he has thrived as a starter for Southampton. Good ball skills and excellent positioning are his virtues and he has also improved his focus at set pieces. Sime Vrsaljko (Genoa) Age 22; 5 caps. Played in only one World Cup qualifier, a 2-1 home defeat by Belgium, but the absence of banned 36-year old stalwart Josip Simunic has opened the door for the young central defender to squeeze into the squad. Midfielders: Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla) Age 26; 60 caps. The most versatile player in Croatia's squad capable of playing on either flank or as a central midfielder. The crafty dribbler was caught in a late night partying stint at previous club Schalke 04 before a big game and temporarily dropped from the first team. Flourished again in the Spanish top flight. Niko Kranjcar (Queens Park Rangers) Age 29; 81 caps. No longer in his prime, but the former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder still has an eye for goal and an ability to deliver from set pieces. Drew the wrath of Dinamo Zagreb fans when he moved to traditional Croatian rivals Hajduk Split in 2006 before he joined Portsmouth the following year. Ognjen Vukojevic (Dynamo Kiev) Age 30; 54 caps. The defensive midfielder has dropped down the pecking order as the youthful Mateo Kovacic burst into the first eleven during qualifying. Good passing and an eye for goal from long range could make him a useful substitute during the finals. Luka Modric (Real Madrid) Age 28; 73 caps. The dynamo of Croatia's engine room, Modric has won a fierce battle for a place in Real Madrid's team this season after struggling in the early stages after his 2012 move from Tottenham Hotpsur. Modric's selfless work, tireless running and crisp passing will make him the driving force of his country's bid to reach the knockout stages in his fourth major tournament. Ivan Perisic (WfL Wolfsburg) Age 25; 27 caps. The winger is as talented as he is inconsistent. Frequent dips in form have forced him to move from Borussia Dortmund to Bundesliga rivals Wolfsburg, where he has done reasonably well in his first season. Could be coach Niko Kovac's trump card if he hits top form in the finals. Milan Badelj (Hamburg SV) Age 25; 9 caps. The central midfielder earned a move to the Bundesliga in 2012 with impressive performances for his previous club Dinamo Zagreb, where he shot through the ranks and won five successive league titles. Solid and reliable in all departments, he should be an asset at the World Cup. Ivo Ilicevic (Hamburg SV) Age 27; 8 caps. Missed most of Croatia's qualifying campaign, but returned for the playoffs against Iceland. His creativity could come in handy if he is called upon to step in as an attacking midfielder. Potentially a valuable substitute. Mateo Kovacic (Inter Milan) Age 20; 8 caps. The youngster has gone through the trials and tribulations typical for a player his age, having endured a difficult second season at Inter after an impressive first. First choice in the centre of Croatia's midfield alongside Modric thanks to his marauding runs through the middle and good defending. Forwards: Eduardo da Silva (Shakhtar Donetsk) Age 31; 61 caps. Brazilian-born midfielder who took Croatian citizenship 12 years ago. Recovered from a horrific multiple shin and ankle fracture in 2008 which nearly ended his career when he peaked at Arsenal. Has not been as clinical since he moved to Ukraine in 2010 but still has a good awareness in the penalty box and is likely to be used as a substitute. He is second on Croatia's all-time international scoring list. Nikica Jelavic (Hull City) Age 28; 31 caps. Suffered a dramatic loss of form in his second year at Everton after making an impact in the first 12 months. He is still trying to re-discover his best form at Hull, having played in fits and starts since he joined them in January but has an FA Cup final to look forward to in May. Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich) Age 28; 48 caps. The focal point of Croatia's attack but will be suspended from the World Cup opening match against hosts Brazil. A prolific scorer who has spearheaded Croatia's qualifying campaign with vital goals in several games as well as assists to his team mates. Ivica Olic (Wfl Wolfsburg) Age 34; 90 caps. The evergreen forward has rolled back the years in the qualifiers and forced younger players to admire his wealth of skills from the bench. Tireless running remains one of his best traits. Can play as a second striker or in a deeper role and his experience could be priceless. (Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic. Edited by Tim Collings and Mike Collett.)

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