New Delhi [India], November 17 (ANI): Former captain Sardar Singh has been left out of the 18-member Indian men's hockey team for the Odisha Men's Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017, starting on December 1 at the Kalinga Stadium.
India are grouped with Australia, England and Germany in Pool B and will begin their campaign on the opening day against defending champions Australia.
The Indian team will be led by 25-year-old midfielder Manpreet Singh, while the responsibilities of his deputy will be shouldered by Chinglensana Singh.
The team will see Akash Chikte and Suraj Karkera guard the Indian goalpost.
The midfield will see SK Uthappa, Kothajit Singh and Sumit join Manpreet and Chinglensana. The backline will see the return of the experienced dragflick specialist Rupinder Pal Singh and Odisha-lad Birendra Lakra.
"It is good to have Rupinder, who brings great experience, as well as Birendra back in the team. Both are 100 per cent fit and eager to wear the India colours again," stated the 43-year-old Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne.
Junior World Cup stars Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar and Dipsan Tirkey who have had promising outings in Europe and Asia Cup too find themselves in the squad for the season finale. In perhaps one of the best comeback stories of the year, Odisha-lad Amit Rohidas, who had a fantastic outing in 2017 Hockey India League that stemmed his return to the Senior Camp, has been rewarded with a place in the biggest tournament of the year.
"Amit was called-in as a replacement for Kothajit who had a hamstring injury just before we left for the Asia Cup. He flew in directly from Australia where he had played the Australian Hockey League for India 'A' team and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands," stated the Dutchman.
He further added that the team will have dragflick-options in Rupinder, Harmanpreet, Varun, Amit and Dipsan. "We have five players in defence who can drag and have been putting in extra hours for PC training which is great for the team," Sjoerd said.
The forward line will see the experienced SV Sunil along with Akashdeep Singh, Gurjant Singh who had a promising Asia Cup, Lalit Upadhyay and 22-year-old Mandeep Singh returning to the team after being rested for Asia Cup.
The Dutchman emphasized that this team is a great mix of experienced seniors and energetic youngsters who will add to the team's enthusiasm.
"I think this is a great mix and would especially like to see how the youngsters soak up the pressure of playing against higher ranked teams in the world. We will have to play every match like it is the Final and will have absolutely no room to make errors if we want to see ourselves on the podium," concluded Chief Coach Marijne.
The squad is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Akash Anil Chikte, Suraj Karkera
Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Varun Kumar, Rupinderpal Singh, Birendra Lakra
Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (captain), Chinglensana Singh (vice-captain), SK Uthappa, Sumit, Kothajit Singh
Forwards: SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh. (ANI)