5 Players Croatia Must Call Up Ahead of Euro 2016 Qualifiers

Sasa Ibrulj@sasaibruljCorrespondent IJuly 3, 2014

5 Players Croatia Must Call Up Ahead of Euro 2016 Qualifiers

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    The World Cup may be over for Croatia, but the talks about the future of the team have already started.

    Some of the players, like Ognjen Vukojevic, have already announced their retirement from international football, while others are expected to follow suit.

    However, not everybody considers the generation shift to be the solution for the team. Some players considered to be veterans, such as Darijo Srna or Ivica Olic, are still the base of the Croatia side.

    But Croatia will have to replenish their team for the Euro 2016 qualification campaign and younger faces will be required.

    Croatia is famous for its talented youngsters and no doubt that they have something to offer in replacement for the old guard.

    Bleacher Report brings you five names who could have key roles for Croatia in the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

Alen Halilovic, 18, Barcelona

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    Hailed as one of the biggest prospects of European football, many expected Alen Halilovic to be part of Niko Kovac's World Cup squad in Brazil.

    However, the Croatia head coach decided that it was too early to use the 18-year-old at the top level. But if he continues to develop as expected, Halilovic could soon be one of the most important players for the team.

    Halilovic is another product of GNK Dinamo Zagreb's youth academy, where he made his first football moves. Similar in size, stature and even the looks, he is often likened to Luka Modric.

    He made his professional debut in September 2012, at 16 years and 101 days, becoming the youngest debutant in the history of Dinamo. Eleven days later, he added another record, writing his name in the history books as youngest goalscorer in the history of the Croatian league.

    The attacking midfielder is comfortable with the ball, sometimes too much, has a nice touch and passing abilities and can be used on both flanks as well.

    His performances on youth level have seen big clubs queueing for his services, forcing Dinamo to sell him before his scholarship contract expired.

    Halilovic opted for Barcelona, and he signed a five-year deal. However, he will start his career in Barcelona B, gathering experience for the future.

    That would launch him to the national team, for whom he has already played, in a friendly against Portugal in 2013, where he became the youngest man to play for Croatia.

    Even though he was eligible for Croatia and his father´s Sead homeland Bosnia-Herzegovina, Halilovic opted for the Croatians.

Tin Jedvaj, 18, Roma/Bayer Leverkusen

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    Dinamo Zagreb's youth academy is one of the biggest talent factories in the world and Tin Jedvaj is yet another product of Maksimir.

    The young defender made his debut for Dinamo in 2013, winning the championship title in his first season.

    However, he made only 14 appearances for the team before they decided to sell him. AS Roma's offer looked lucrative and attractive enough for the son of former Bosnian player Zdenko Jedvaj, who played for Velez Mostar in the Yugoslav league.

    His move to Italy was not as good as he expected, and Jedvaj barely made an impact on the first team, with just two Serie A appearances to his name last season.

    However, Jedvaj will be looking for better fortunes in the Bundesliga next season after being loaned to Bayer Leverkusen.

Josip Radosevic, 20, Napoli

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    When Niko Kovac´s predecessor Igor Stimac included him in the team for the Belgium match in the World Cup qualifiers, Josip Radosevic was almost anonymous outside of Croatia.

    The defensive midfielder started his career at Hajduk Split, where he made his professional debut in 2011, as a 17-year-old. In the following season, Radosevic established himself as one of the key players and earned a call-up to the national team.

    The youngster soon moved over the Adriatic sea to join Serie A side Napoli, but he is still waiting to make his mark on the first team after appearing in only eight league matches last season, all of them as a substitute.

    Still, Radosevic was considered to be one of Kovac´s favourite players during his reign with the Under-21 team and it would be logical to expect him to return to the national team soon.

    The fact that Kovac is struggling to find a solution for the role of holding midfielder will definitely improve Radosevic's chances, since he has been superb for Hajduk in that position.

    He is gifted with a great reading of the game, solid positional sense, good passing and psychical attributes, but to get another chance in the national team he'll have to become a regular first-team player at Napoli.

Mario Pasalic, 19, Chelsea

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    After making his debut for Hajduk Split in 2013, Mario Pasalic has established himself as one of the best players in the Croatian league last season.

    As a creative midfielder who is most comfortable when coming from behind the attackers, he scored 11 goals.

    After less than a year of playing professionally, Pasalic became a target for bigger clubs, with Chelsea being the lucky one to land him in January 2014, and the player returned to Hajduk on loan.

    Niko Kovac included him in his initial 30-man squad for the World Cup, but Pasalic missed the cut for the finals in Brazil.

    Since 2009, Pasalic played through all the ranks of Croatian youth teams and he'll be looking for a chance to prove himself in the Euro 2016 qualifiers.

Ivan Mocinic, 21, HNK Rijeka

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    Ivan Mocinic travelled to Brazil as one of the happiest members in Kovac's 23-man squad, but ended up being probably the unluckiest player in the party.

    He was the surprise inclusion in the team for the World Cup, but he was injured days before the first match and was replaced by Milan Badelj.

    Another midfielder in this list, mostly used in a defensive role, Mocinic earned his place in the national team with good performances for his HNK Rijeka in the domestic league.

    Rijeka won the cup, their first silverware since 2006, and impressed in the Europa League, with Mocinic becoming better and better as the season progressed.

    He was unlucky to miss out on his first major tournament in Brazil, but Kovac clearly views Mocinic as a player for the future.