Dejan Lovren has not yet resumed training with Liverpool after the World Cup—but has been called up by his national team, Croatia.
Even though the season is barely two weeks old, the first international break is just around the corner.
Just as fans are getting into their stride at club level after the intensity and longevity of the finals over in Russia this summer, a disrupted couple of weeks will follow.
While most of the seniors at Anfield are involved at international level, a few—the retired James Milner, Loris Karius, a handful of others—usually remain at Melwood.
Centre-back Lovren would have been expected to be among them this time, with the defender not yet back in full training with the Reds.
A stomach issue was seemingly suffered before or during the finals, while with Croatia, and had not cleared up by the time Lovren returned to the Reds after a three-week holiday.
“He’s obviously not fit. With the World Cup, the [injury] got worse,” Klopp clarified last week.
“It’s serious, but not that serious. It’s not that we are afraid or whatever.”
The boss suggested it could be two-to-three weeks out for the defender, meaning he’d likely return to action after the international break—but it seems Croatia have other ideas.
?? #Croatia squad for @selecaoportugal friendly and #NationsLeague debut at @SeFutbol ? #BeProud #Family #Vatreni pic.twitter.com/EpPT9moqxX
— HNS (@HNS_CFF) August 20, 2018
The World Cup runners-up face Portugal and Spain in early September, the former a friendly and the latter being their first UEFA Nations League fixture.
While Lovren would perhaps barely be back in full training if he returned in accordance with Klopp’s vague timeline, it begs the question why his national team are intent on rushing him back into action.
It could yet be that they have named a full squad prior to any fitness tests or discussions with clubs, but the Reds’ coaching and medical staff will doubtless be unimpressed nonetheless.
Joe Gomez has deputised at the start of the campaign at centre-back, while Ragnar Klavan has been sold and Joel Matip has also remained below full fitness.
With options depleted at this stage of the campaign, Klopp must be hoping that a compromise can be reached on game time, even if Lovren has returned to availability.
After a full summer schedule and an ongoing complaint, however, surely the long-term benefits of missing a couple of non-competitives at this stage would outweigh the need to throw him straight back in.