Roberto Mancini has told Vincent Kompany to sort his priorities out, accusing the Manchester City captain of putting his country before his club.
City manager Mancini said Kompany, 26, had defied his request not to play in Belgium's World Cup qualifier against Macedonia in Brussels on Tuesday night.
The centre-back played the full 90 minutes of the 1-0 win, despite not having featured for City since suffering a calf injury during the FA Cup fourth-round victory at Stoke on January 26.
Mancini, who has already criticised Belgium coach Marc Wilmots for calling up Kompany, accused the defender of disobeying his instructions.
He said: "I think that sometimes the players should understand that the club is more important.
"I don't say that the national team is not important, because I never said to my players: 'Don't go to join up with the national team.'
"But there are some cases where the club is more important, and all the players should understand this."
Asked whether he had told Kompany not to join up with Belgium for international duty, Mancini said: "I talked with him. But I can't put him in jail for two weeks.
"I said: 'Stay here and have your treatment here. Don't go to play, because you will be taking a risk. For us, these two months are really important.'
"He said that the manager called him up and that he should go. OK, he can go there to be looked at by their medical people. But after that he should have come back, because it was important that he worked here and prepared well for the next game, and for the next two months."
The City manager indicated that he had allowed Kompany to join up with the Belgium squad so that he could be checked by their medical staff, but expected him back "after one or two days" without playing for the national team.
He had spoken to Wilmots about Kompany's injury, but felt the defender should have made clear to his coach that he was unavailable.
"I tried to talk with the Belgium manager three months ago when Vinny was injured, but he probably doesn't understand very well," Mancini said.
"I don't want it to be that Vinny doesn't join up with the national team. But when he is injured, it is impossible. It is not correct. For 60 days, he didn't play for us. We did everything, and he went to play for the national team."
It is understood Kompany has not suffered any reaction in his calf, but Mancini will check his progress before deciding whether to restore him to the team for Saturday's Premier League home game against Newcastle.
"A calf is a difficult injury," he said. "You don't know if a player is OK or not."
But Kompany himself indicated that he was ready to play, posting a picture of his boots and kit on Twitter with the message: "They're ready to roll again! :-)"