The Indian men's hockey team is all set to regroup at Bhubaneswar for a national coaching camp. On the back of a memorable debut in the FIH Pro League earlier this month where they beat the formidable Netherlands at the Kalinga Stadium, this is an effort by Hockey India to further strengthen plans for Tokyo 2020.
The apex body of hockey, Hockey India on Saturday named 32 players who will practice at the camp, and the list indicates the return of drag-flicker and defender Varun Kumar, who will be back after recovering from a nerve injury.
Experience and youth in equal measure
The squad's core group of players have been untouched and feature a mix of experience and youth, including PR Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak, Suraj Karkera, Harmanpreet Singh, Surender Kumar, Birendra Lakra, Rupinder Pal Singh, Gurinder Singh, Amit Rohidas, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam, Manpreet Singh, Hardik Singh, Nilakanta Sharma and Vivek Sagar Prasad.
Also making his way to the list is Chinglensana Singh. The experienced midfielder had sustained a fracture in his right ankle during the 9th Hockey India Senior Men National Championship (A Division) in 2019 and returned from a year-long sabbatical to make a successful comeback against the Netherlands.
Along with Chinglensana Singh, also finding themselves in the camp will be Dilpreet Singh, Rajkumar Pal, Nilam Sanjeep Xess and Dipsan Tirkey.
SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Simranjeet Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Gursahibjit Singh, Shamsher Singh, Jarmanpreet Singh, Jaskaran Singh, Gurjant Singh and Sumit have been the other players who have been called up.
Preparing for the World Champions
Head Coach Graham Reid, who wants to pit India against the best, said, "In the next two weeks, we will continue to stay focused on the process we have put in place. Improved fitness was one of our key strengths and it is important we keep up the optimal level. The players got a good week's break before returning to camp so I am expecting everyone to be fresh."
Speaking about key areas the camp will try to address, Graham Reid stated, "We need to improve one-on-one tackling, that will be one of the main focuses of our camp, and we look forward to the challenge against the World Champions."
Indeed, up next in the FIH Pro League for India will be Belgium at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on February 8 and 9.
Full list of participants for the national hockey camp:
P R Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak, Suraj Karkera, Harmanpreet Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Surender Kumar, Birendra Lakra, Rupinder Pal Singh, Gurinder Singh, Amit Rohidas, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam, Manpreet Singh, Hardik Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Simranjeet Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, S V Sunil, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Gursahibjit Singh, Shamsher Singh, Varun Kumar, Jarmanpreet Singh, Dipsan Tirkey, Nilam Sanjeep Xess, Jaskaran Singh, Rajkumar Pal, Gurjant Singh, Sumit, Chinglensana Singh.