New faces may get the nod, says Nobbs

New faces may get the nod, says Nobbs

The performance of youngsters in the ongoing series against South Africa has impressed India's men’s hockey coach Michael Nobbs, who hinted at the inclusion of a few new faces for the Olympic qualifiers in February.

India fielded four fresh faces in SK Uthappa, Kothajit Singh, Chinglesana Singh Kangujam and Harbir Singh for the five-’test’ series. Nobbs showered praise on Kothajit and Uthappa, who has rustled up two goals in the series.

“Uthappa has played brilliantly in the two matches and he has certainly put himself in the mix to get selected,” Nobbs told reporters on Saturday.

“Kothajit has been very impressive as well.”

India have taken an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series, which will also serve as the trials for the selection of final squad for the qualifiers.

Nobbs admitted it could be tricky job to pick the last three to four players.

“It would be difficult to pick the best 18. We wanted to test every player in the series and see who can take the opportunities and win their positions. Some players did that. We now have 25-26 players who can play for India,” he said.

Nobbs asserted that he was looking to find the best combination through this series. “It is not only about selecting the best players, it is also about selecting the best combination. Like I cannot have both dragflickers Raghunath and Sandeep on the turf at the same time. I have to see who are the other fullbacks who will combine well with them." Former captain and experienced midfielder Rajpal Singh is returning from injury and Nobbs said he will have to work to find his way into the final team.

“It will be a lot of hard work for him. If you do not play for a long time then it is also an opportunity for other players to prove themselves.”

The final match of the series will be played on Sunday.