Chikara all set to return

“I am feeling okay now,” said the Haryana player on his second day of practice at the SAI campus on Tuesday. “Today, I did some running with the boys and I was in the lead. It feels very good that despite returning after seven months, the fitness is still good.”

Chikara, who missed the entire first phase of the camp, was diagnosed with ITBS (Iliotibial Band Syndrome) just before the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi last October. Despite the pain not letting up and Chikara requesting rest, he was chosen for the CWG and the Asian Games which, he feels, could have aggravated the problem.

“Actually, my problem was severe and started during the Commonwealth Games. At the Asian Games, I told the physio and the coaches that I had a problem and it would be better if I didn’t play. But they said ‘you’ll be alright’ and my problem got aggravated. I played all the matches in the Asian Games. When I warmed up, I didn’t feel any pain and felt fit, but after the match the problem would flare up.

“Knowing something was wrong, I first visited Bangalore and received treatment at HOSMAT for a month. I then consulted Dr Rajagopal (in Delhi). He told me surgery wasn’t required and I should be alright with exercise and physiotherapy. I was completely off hockey for six months and was limited to just sessions in the gym. There was a special fitness camp in Chandigarh 20 days ago where I started practising with the ball,” added the 27-year-old.

Despite missing a major part of the camp, Chikara felt he could make it to the Indian team sooner rather than later. “Everyone at the camp is extremely fit. I don’t have much time (to make it to the Asian Champions Trophy squad). Despite being out, I still outpaced many of them in sprinting today.

“I feel I can reach my peak quickly. Nothing is difficult. I have no problem with fitness now, but I have just started training with the ball. I should be fine in 10-15 days.”

Chikara, who started his career as a forward but was pushed to a midfield role by former coach Jose Brasa, felt he could contribute the most in his new position. “I can deliver my best as a link-man or in midfield. Based on my fitness and the way I run, I feel that is the perfect position for me. I have good endurance and that is very important for a medio.”

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