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Iceland's Sigthorsson out of World Cup playoff return

Iceland's Kolbeinn Sigthorsson celebrates after scoring a goal during the 2014 World Cup qualifying football match against Norway at Ullevaa
Iceland's Kolbeinn Sigthorsson celebrates after scoring a goal during the 2014 World Cup qualifying football match against Norway at Ullevaa

By Zoran Milosavljevic

ZAGREB (Reuters) - Iceland striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson will miss the World Cup playoff second leg against Croatia on Tuesday with an ankle injury, said coach Lars Lagerback.

The Ajax Amsterdam player's absence is a big blow for Iceland after the first leg in Rejkyavik ended in a goalless draw.

"I always try to find solutions to problems rather than lament over them," Lagerback told a news conference on Monday.

"We are in a win-win situation because we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. We have to make changes and adapt to Croatia but we'll try to stick to our own style as much as possible."

Lagerback, 65, previously guided his native Sweden to five major championships and led Nigeria to the 2010 World Cup.

Former Chelsea and Barcelona striker Eidur Gudjohnsen, now plying his trade for Belgian side Club Bruges, is likely to step in for Sigthorsson.

Gudjohnsen, 35, came on as a substitute when Sigthorsson was carried off on a stretcher in Friday's first leg.

The versatile Eggert Jonsson, who can play as a central midfielder or defender, should come in for the suspended Olafur Skulason who was sent off on Friday.

Lagerback is hoping Croatia, who have gone five games without a win and are looking to qualify for their eighth major tournament finals as an independent nation, will throw caution to the wind.

"They will have to attack as the home team but I am not sure they will throw everyone forward because that could play into our hands and allow us to get a precious away goal on the break," said Iceland's coach.

"We know Croatia are a team of exceptional quality and (Mario) Mandzukic is one of the most versatile strikers in the game but I have plenty of faith in my team's character.

"We have only lost one game in this World Cup qualifying campaign and that means something."

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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