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ÖFB-Reservist Dragovic helpless: “I always want to play”

Dragovic could not agree with the opinion of team boss Foda that, with the exception of Hinteregger, no current ÖFB defender is in full play at the moment.

Vienna – The situation of Aleksandar Dragovic in the Austrian national football team has changed. Under team boss Marcel Koller, the Viennese had been an integral part of the regular formation for many years, but since Franco Foda took office, the central defender has no longer been in the role of defence chief. Sebastian Prödl has moved into this position in recent months.

Dragovic, on the other hand, was no longer in the ÖFB’s starting eleven in the three international matches since the 3-0 defeat against Brazil in Vienna in June – the Leverkusen professional himself doesn’t really know why. “I always want to play, that’s my claim. I can only give the best in training, at the end of the day the coach decides,” said the 27-year-old on Sunday in Vienna.

“Of course I’m disappointed”.

While Dragovic has played for Bayer in seven of the ten season’s compulsory games so far, Prödl is holding a club-level match this season. Nevertheless, the Styrian formed the central defence together with Martin Hinteregger in the 1-0 win against Northern Ireland.

Dragovic, on the other hand, was only exchanged in the 90th minute to secure the narrow lead. “Of course I was disappointed, you could see that too. But now it’s time to look forward,” said the 67-times international (1 goal). “If I wasn’t disappointed, I’d have to hang my shoes on the nail immediately.”

Dragovic could not agree with Foda’s opinion that, with the exception of Hinteregger, no current ÖFB centre back is in full play at the moment. “I’m in rhythm, full of juice and have performed well at Leverkusen.”

Leverkusen jackpotjoy

Honours 

Club 

Austria Wien
  • Austrian Cup: 2008–09 
Basel
  • Swiss Super League: 2010–11, 2011–12,  2012–13 
  • Swiss Cup: 2012 
Dynamo Kyiv
  • Ukrainian Premier League: 2014–15, 2015–16
  • Ukrainian Cup: 2013–14, 2014–15
  • Ukrainian Super Cup: 2016

Individual 

  • Swiss Golden Player Award: “Best Defender” 2012 
  • Europa League team of the group stage: 2012 

Midfield place as an option

Most recently, Dragovic was in the defensive central midfield in a 0-0 draw against Freiburg, a position he was not unfamiliar with. “I’m a skilled midfielder, played in midfield for Austria until I was 18,” said the Germany regional, affirming that he felt “very good” in his role against Freiburg. Dragovic suspected that he could benefit from this flexibility both in the club and in the team.

His wish for more national team appearances from the beginning should be fulfilled at least on Tuesday, because some changes are to be expected in the test match in Herning against Denmark. But even if the ÖFB selection doesn’t compete against the World Cup last sixteen team in the top line-up, that doesn’t change the objective, Dragovic stressed. “Every game is important for us. We want to develop and always win”.

A hit against Denmark in the starting eleven?

Besides the ex-Austrian, Xaver Schlager could also get a chance in the starting eleven. “If it happens, then it happens, then I’m happy. But I have no expectations that I will play,” said the Salzburg professional. The 21-year-old approaches the matter relatively relaxed. “As a youngster you need patience,” said Schlager. “You have to dig in, step on the gas and perform.

This general carefreeness probably contributed to the strong appearances of the midfielder in the past months. “You shouldn’t put so much pressure on yourself, otherwise you won’t perform. The most important thing is to stay calm in the game and look for good solutions.”

Schlager would still be eligible for the ÖFB U21 selection, which will play the decisive match against Russia on Tuesday for a European Championship play-off participation. The five-time team player, like Maximilian Wöber and Konrad Laimer, who were seconded from the A team, would have liked to help his contemporaries and therefore sought dialogue with Foda. “But he said he needed me for the Denmark game.” When you play JackpotJoy and refer a friend you will receive a £20 extra bonus.