Injured Walmiki ruled out

India suffered a blow when talented young striker Yuvraj Walmiki was ruled out for the rest of the FIH Olympics Qualifiers here.

The 22-year-old striker, who has graduated well to the senior squad with a string of impressive performances in the last four-five months, was diagnosed with a muscle tear in his right hamstring that has put him out of action for three weeks.

Walmiki missed the December phase of the National camp in Bangalore, returning to action only in the January ‘Test’ series against South Africa. “He has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 muscle tear,” said coach Michael Nobbs after a practice session at the Major Dhyan Chand National stadium. “It is a recurrence of a previous injury that was not treated well.

“He should be fine in 10 days but we are not taking any chances this time. Although it is Grade 2 – which takes 10 days recovery time – we will be treating it as Grade 3 and give him another 10 days to recover.

“He is, of course, very disappointed that he can’t play any more part in the competition, but such things happen. We have good bench strength and probably use defender Rupinder Pal Singh as striker. We used him as a forward during the Australia tour and he really did well. So, one more chance for him.”

A draw against Poland will power India to the final and when asked if the team would be looking to conserve their energy, Nobbs said the goal would be to go for a win. “See, you always play a game to win it. That’s what we will strive to do against Poland. We are not too worried about who we may face in the final; to qualify for the London Olympics we have to beat the best and that’s what we are planning to do.”

In a fun-filled practice session, the entire team encircled the ‘D’ and took continuous shots at goalkeepers Bharat Chetri and PR Sreejesh, giving the two hardly any respite. “Look, the ’keepers have had very little to do in this tournament. We wanted to keep them on the toes. So we thought we’ll test them. We keep doing this every now and then. The strikers love beating the hell out of them.”

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