The now four-time Champions League winner has already featured at two World Cups and one European Championships, although largely off the bench. Kovacic will be aiming to make a midfield starting berth his own this time around, although he faces stiff competition in that department.
His good friend Modric is certain to play, and Marcelo Brozovic, Nikola Vlasic, Milan Badelj and former Blue Mario Pasalic are all possible starters in the middle of the park in an expected 4-3-3 shape.
Croatia v England, Wembley, Sunday 13 June, 2pm
Croatia v Czech Republic, Hampden Park, Friday 18 June, 8pm
Croatia v Scotland, Hampden Park, Tuesday 22 June, 8pm
If Croatia win their group, they will play the runner-up of Group F (France, Germany, Portugal, Hungary).
If Croatia come second, they will play the runner-up of Group E (Spain, Sweden, Poland, Slovakia).
Winners of groups do not automatically play runners-up, and vice versa, because four third-placed teams also qualify.