Croatian players flew out of Zagreb airport on Thursday, just a few hours after head coach Niko Kovac called to the team's experienced Panathinaikos defender Gordon Schildenfeld as a late replacement for Lovren, who was ruled out of two qualifying matches after injuring his abdominal muscles and left the Wednesday practice early.

"It would be nice that Lovren was with us but we have other options. Schildenfeld is back in the team and we will not have a problem with this position," head coach Kovac said on Thursday.

Schildenfeld was part of the Croatian 23-man team at the World Cup in Brazil but didn't earn any playing time in three group matches.

"I didn't have any problem with that. I said that I would always be available. I am feeling good and I am ready to help if needed," Schildenfeld said.

However, it seems that Panathinaikos defender will stay glued to the bench as Kovac plans to give a chance to 25-year-old Dynamo Kiev right back Domagoj Vida.

"I feel sorry for Lovren because he was playing well. I hope that the head coach will pick me for the match but most important thing is that Croatia win three points. I don't think that playing as a central defender would be a problem for me. In fact, I think that I am the best in that role," Vida said.

Croatia started the qualifying campaign with a 2-0 win over Malta in Zagreb a month ago.

"Any positive result would be good for us. We would be satisfied with a draw but we want to win all three points. Bulgarian team is disciplined and well organised. I don't think that they will come to attack us in full force because they know our quality. But, if they do that, we will be ready with an answer," head coach Kovac said.

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