Petkovic ruled out of Croatia qualifiers with shoulder injury

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(Corrects day of Dinamo game to Sunday in para 4)

ZAGREB (Reuters) - Croatia striker Bruno Petkovic will miss their opening World Cup qualifiers after suffering a shoulder injury playing for his club Dinamo Zagreb, the Balkan nation's coach Zlatko Dalic said on Monday.

"Unfortunately, Petkovic is out with a shoulder injury and he will join Ante Rebic on the sidelines after the AC Milan winger was deemed unfit on Friday with a recurring problem," Dalic told a news conference.

The Croatians, the 2018 World Cup runners-up, visit neighbours Slovenia on Wednesday followed by home games against Cyprus on Saturday and Malta on March 30.

Petkovic picked up the injury after scoring the winner in Dinamo's 1-0 win over HNK Gorica on Sunday which kept the Croatian champions top of the table.

Dalic declined to say whether Dinamo winger Mislav Orsic would start against Slovenia after scoring a hat-trick in the club's epic 3-0 win over Tottemham Hotspur on Thursday which sent them into the Europa League quarter-finals.

Dinamo sealed a 3-2 aggregate win over Spurs after Orsic bedazzled the English side but Dalic suggested the 28-year-old might start on the bench.

"Mislav has earned his spot in the national team and will certainly play a part, but he's played a lot of club football lately and we have to find the right balance," he said.

"We have a very demanding schedule, three games inside a week and the players are heading into it amid an equally exerting club season."

(This story corrects day of Dinamo game to Sunday in paragraph 4.)

(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Ed Osmond)