Dejan Lovren could face an uncertain future under Croatia manager Ante Cacic, after the 62-year-old criticised his conduct this week.
Lovren was named on the bench for Croatia’s clash with Hungary on Tuesday night, when Cacic called for his substitutes to warm up on the touchline.
But returning to his seat before the rest of his team-mates, Lovren provoked the ire of his international, who has now claimed the centre-back has taken a “step backward” in his thinking for the Croatia squad.
“He did not refuse to get on the pitch…because no one invited him to come on,” Cacic is reported to have told Croatian outlet Sportske Novosti.
“But do you think it is up to Lovren or any other player to decide how long will he warm up?
“Or is it [the] coach’s decision?”
“I didn’t specifically tell him to warm up, I told all the benched players because it was cold in Budapest. So all of them went to warm up.
“I will not tolerate such behaviour because no one is more important than the team. Lovren made [a] step backward, away from our squad.
“We didn’t talk after the match, we will see what is going to happen, but I will not tolerate such acts and he made [a] wrong move.”
With the summer’s European Championship looming, Lovren’s transgression could put his future in the Croatia squad in doubt.
Former Man City and Tottenham Hotspur man Vedran Corluka is among Cecic’s alternatives at centre-back, along with Gordon Schildenfeld and Domagoj Vida, while Marko Leskovic, Duje Caleta-Car, Jozo Simunovic and Tin Jedvaj are other options for the Euros.
This is not the first time Lovren’s discipline has come under question, with the 26-year-old refusing to train with former club Southampton in order to force through a move in 2014.
Cecic’s comments may come as a warning sign to Jurgen Klopp as he welcomes Lovren back to Melwood this week.
Speaking during the international break, the German said he was looking for “positive information” from his players on their time away.
While Lovren is unlikely to drop out of Klopp’s first team as a result of Cecic’s criticism, with Joel Matip arriving at Liverpool this summer his first-choice role could come under threat.
This standpoint will do the ex-Saints man no favours, undermining his positive form of late.