Croatia unveil provisional 27-man Euro squad

Croatia coach Slaven Bilic on Thursday unveiled a provisional 27-man squad for Euro 2012 and said he was still counting on the recovery of injured stars Niko Kranjcar and Dejan Lovren.

"Due to the fact that some players who should have been ready for the Euros are either not yet fully fit or are still injured, we decided to name a few more players, to give ourselves more options in every position," Bilic told journalists.

The final 23-man list will be announced either on May 26 or a day later, he added.

"I will wait for both (Tottenham midfielder) Kranjcar and (Lyon defender) Lovren until the last day.

"If Euro 2012 was to start in a week Lovren would not make it," Bilic said stressing the 22-year-old was "extremely important" to Croatia.

"Kranjcar is recovering extremely well and I'm a big optimist," the coach added.

Bilic repeatedly said he believes his side can reach the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 despite being drawn with Spain, Italy and the Republic of Ireland in a tricky Group C.

"We are going for success and I would be very disappointed if we did not make it out of our group," he recently told the Vecernji List daily.

The European Championship, which runs from June 8 to July 1, is being hosted jointly by Poland and Ukraine.

Those Croatian players whose club seasons have already finished will begin preparations next Wednesday in Catez, Slovenia, before teaming up with the rest of the squad in the northern Adriatic town of Rovinj on May 20, Bilic said.

Croatia will play two friendly matches before the Euros, against Estonia on May 25 in the northern port of Pula and against Norway in Oslo on June 2.

They kick off their European Championship campaign against the Republic of Ireland on June 10 and Bilic believes that match will be crucial to their chances.

"They are for us, as we are for them, a big chance," he said warning that the Irish were "strong, organised" opponents.

Croatia's biggest success on the international stage was a third-place finish at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Provisional squad

Goalkeepers: Stipe Pletikosa (Rostov/RUS), Danijel Subasic (Monaco/FRA), Ivan Kelava (Dinamo Zagreb), Goran Blazevic (Hajduk Split)

Defenders: Jurica Buljat (Maccabi Haifa/ISR), Domagoj Vida (Dinamo Zagreb), Vedran Corluka (Bayer Leverkusen/GER), Josip Simunic (Dinamo Zagreb), Dejan Lovren (Lyon/FRA), Sime Vrsaljko (Dinamo Zagreb), Gordon Schildenfeld (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER), Ivan Strinic (Dnepropetrovsk/UKR), Danijel Pranjic (Bayern Munich/GER)

Midfielders: Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk/UKR), Tomislav Dujmovic (Real Zaragoza/ESP), Ognjen Vukojevic (Dynamo Kiev/UKR), Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla/ESP), Luka Modric (Tottenham/ENG), Ivan Perisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Niko Kranjcar (Tottenham/ENG), Milan Badelj (Dinamo Zagreb), Ivo Ilicevic (Hamburg/GER)

Strikers: Ivica Olic (Bayern Munich/GER), Nikica Jelavic (Everton/ENG), Mario Mandzukic (Wolfsburg/GER), Eduardo da Silva (Shakhtar Donetsk/UKR), Nikola Kalinic (Dnepropetrovsk/UKR)

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