Bengaluru: India has named four uncapped players in its squad for the Four Nations invitational hockey tournament in New Zealand, while P.R. Sreejesh returns to action after a lengthy injury-forced absence.
Young players Dilpreet Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad Simranjeet Singh and goalkeeper Krishan Pathak are all in line to make their senior debut at the start of a busy year for Indian hockey. Dilpreet and Vivek played starring roles at the Sultan of Johor Cup last year, where the Junior Indian team claimed the bronze medal, and are currently part of the junior camp under Jude Felix. Simranjeet and Pathak, meanwhile, were members of the Indian side that won the Junior World Cup in 2016.
“We are giving youngsters international experience. We have bigger tournaments in the year and we’ll have to see who we can field,” said head coach Sjoerd Marijne at the SAI here on Monday.
The Dutchman stated that Sreejesh had recovered completely from the ACL injury that had sidelined him since the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup last April. “It’s perfect now. We have eight matches in New Zealand; we will see how many he can play. It’s good for him to start at the highest level. It will help him for the next big tournament (CWG) in April,” he said.
Marijne felt that Akash Chikte and Suraj Karkera, who took turns in goal for India at the HWL Final, had not been consistent enough. “Akash and Suraj did show their potential at the HWL Final but they have plenty of room for improvement. They were not consistent. What we want is consistency. Now we want to give Krishan a chance and see how he performs.”
Marijne said senior forward S.V. Sunil needed to “rest his body” while refusing to comment on the future of Sardar Singh, who continues to sit out.
The Four Nations tournament, also featuring Belgium, Japan and host New Zealand, will be played in Tauranga and Hamilton from January 17.
Goalkeepers: P.R. Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak; Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Surender Kumar, Gurinder Singh, Varun Kumar, Rupinderpal Singh, Birendra Lakra; Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (capt.), Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Harjeet Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Simranjeet Singh, Satbir Singh; Forwards: Dilpreet Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, and Armaan Qureshi.