After a very public falling out with his national team manager in the spring, Dejan Lovren missed out on Euro 2016. Such was the acrimony of the situation with manager Ante Cacic that it was difficult to tell if Lovren had quit or if the manager had first moved to expel him from the team.
Since then, Lovren hasn’t been involved for Croatia in their efforts to qualify for the World Cup—he joined up briefly in September but was an unused substitute and asked to be left off the squad in October and November. Cacic, though, says it’s time for Lovren to become part of the team again.
"I think we've said enough about that this year,” said the Croatia manager, looking to put their past troubles in the past and move on. “For me, there is no case with Lovren. When I feel he is needed for the team he will be called up and of course he will come to play for the national team.
"I was his first senior coach, all the way back in 2006 at Inter Zapresic. I know him very well. We are all proud of him because he's playing for a big club in England, one of the two best leagues in the world, along with Spain, which is a great satisfaction for everyone who's worked with him.”
Croatia currently top Group I in UEFA’s qualification tournament, with 10 points from four games so far. Their next match isn’t until March, when they take on second place Ukraine—a match that, as far as Cacic is concerned, is likely to mark Lovren’s return to the national team fold.
"To any national team, including Croatia, he's a needed player,” Cacic noted. “He’s somebody that we don't want not to use in the future."