Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory on Sunday said that India striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, who is currently recovering after undergoing a surgery, could make a return to the 2019-’20 Indian Super League in December.
The 28-year-old striker underwent surgery in May after aggravating his knee injury, missing few of Chennaiyin FC’s group stage matches in the AFC Cup. His injury meant that he couldn’t be a part of the national team under coach Igor Stimac, who has insisted that the Mizoram striker was in his plans.
Gregory said Jeje was making rapid progress but he was not be in a rush to bring him back to the starting eleven despite Chennaiyin FC’s ongoing struggles.
“Jeje is coming back,” Gregory said at the pre-match press conference on the eve of Chennaiyin FC’s fixture against Hyderabad FC. “He is making good progress every week, but he is still not ready for selection. He is definitely better than he was about a month ago. I had a long chat with him this morning. Occasionally he feels a little sore in the knees.
He added, “He has been training with the squad and is very determined to get back. We don’t want to bring him back too early so that he has a relapse and we lose him again for three to four months. We are taking it slowly for the moment. Hopefully, by December we can get him on the bench and then on the field because that can give him a little confidence.”
Jeje was in poor form during the 2018-’19 ISL season, scoring just one goal from 16 appearances as two-time winners Chennaiyin FC finished at the bottom of the table. However, Jeje remains one of the most experienced strikers in the league, only second to Sunil Chhetri in the list of all-time Indian goalscorers in the ISL.