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Kovac hopes to have Modric fit for qualifier

Croatia coach Niko Kovac is hopeful he will be able to call upon midfielder Luka Modric when the Group H leaders host Italy in Zagreb in Euro 2016 qualifying in less than two months.

Modric suffered a strained knee ligament during Real's 3-1 win over Malaga at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

The Croatia international hobbled off on the hour mark following a challenge in the La Liga clash.

But Modric could be fit in time for Italy's visit to the Croatian capital on June 12, with Kovac's men bidding to remain unbeaten in Euro 2016 qualifying.

"I spoke to Luka and wished him a quick and happy recovery. Clearly it's not easy. He's injured again having got back to an adequate rhythm," Kovac told Croatian newspaper Sportske Novosti.

"We've seen in the last month how important he is for Madrid. Moreover, we know what Luka represents for our national side.

"Injuries are part of football. Modric is a great worker and no doubt he'll do the maximum, like the fine professional he is.

"My hope is that he'll have recovered for the game we have against Italy on 12 June. Of course we won't force anything. Luka's health is the most important thing."

Croatia have won four of their five group matches so far to sit two points clear of Italy heading into the top-of-the-table clash at Maksimir Stadium.