Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren will sit out Croatia's penultimate World Cup qualifier against Finland on Friday [6 October] after being ruled out with back and achillies injuries. The 28-year-old played the full 90 minutes in the Reds' last three games, including the 1-1 draw at Newcastle United, but is not deemed to be fit enough for international duty.
Lovren recently admitted to taking up to five painkillers before matches to help manage his multiple fitness problems, which manager Jurgen Klopp has previously described as "nothing major". The former Lyon and Southampton centre-back has been unable to train with the team due to the problems and missed September's matches against Manchester City and Burnley as a result.
Croatia face two pivotal matches in efforts to secure their passage to next summer's World Cup. The Vatreni are top of Group I and victories in their final two qualifiers will guarantee them a place in Russia. Anything less will provide group rivals Iceland, Turkey and Ukraine with the opportunity to leapfrog them, meaning the loss of the Liverpool star could not come at a worse time.
"Lovren is playing without training, with the help of injections and pills," Croatia manager Ante Cacic told the media. "After every game it takes time for recovery." The Croatian Football Association have confirmed Lovren will miss the clash with Finland in Rijeka but could be available for the trip to Ukraine in Kiev on Monday [9 October].
Klopp is currently without three first team players in the form of Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Bogdan – none of whom have played this season – but it remains to be seen whether any of the trio will return for Liverpool in time to face Manchester United when the Premier League season resumes on 14 October.
But Lovren's admission that he requires anti-inflammatories to play represents a worrying state of affairs for Liverpool. He needed to take pills to get through the recent win at Leicester City and draw at Spartak Moscow; a plight which comes amid the club's defensive issues which has seen them concede 18 goals already this term.
"I have problems with my whole body for the last two weeks, my back and now I have hurt my achilles tendon," he told Sportske Novosti. "I am taking pills so I can play – five before every game. I play but I cannot train at all. That's why I skipped matches against Manchester City and Burnley."