Former skipper PR Sreejesh has been named in the 20-member Indian men’s hockey team for the 2018 Four Nations Invitational Tournament in New Zealand starting on January 17, Hockey India said in a release.
India will compete with Belgium, Japan and hosts New Zealand at Tauranga and Hamilton.
Sreejesh, who suffered a knee injury in the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament last year, was out of action for almost eight months and was recently suspended for 15 days for participating in a charity football match without the permission of Hockey India.
The team will be led by 25-year-old midfielder Manpreet Singh while Chinglensana Singh Kangujam will be his deputy.
Young goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak, a Member of the 2016 Junior World Cup winning team, has also been included in the squad while there is no clarification on whether Akash Chitke and Suraj Karkera, who held fort in helping India win a bronze medal in the Hockey World League Finals, have been dropped or rested.
Former skipper Sardar Singh has once again been left out.
New inclusions in the team are forward Dilpreet Singh and midfielder Vivek Sagar Prasad. The duo was rewarded for their promising performance at the 7th Sultan of Johor Cup last year where the team returned home with the bronze medal. While Vivek had led the team and played an instrumental role in the midfield, Dilpreet was India’s top scorer with nine goals in six matches to his credit.
“The team continues to remain a good mix of young and experienced players. They will get to show their abilities against top quality teams. This is an important year for us with major tournaments in the pipeline and one of our focus areas is to perform consistently especially against higher ranked teams,” chief coach Sjoerd Marijne was quoted as saying in the release.
“We use this tour for our preparation for the Commonwealth Games and look at progressing to the next level after the previous two tournaments,” he added.
Meanwhile Hockey India’s High Performance Director David John said, “This tour provides international exposure for some of our younger players in the squad with four of them making their international debut with the senior team. We also view this tournament as another opportunity to assess senior players performance under competition.”
Goalkeepers PR Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak
Defenders Harmanpreet Singh, Surender Kumar, Gurinder Singh, Varun Kumar, Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra
Midfielders Manpreet Singh(C), Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Harjeet Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Simranjeet Singh, Satbir Singh
Forwards: Dilpreet Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Armaan Qureshi