Sandeep back in the mix

Drag-flicker included in Indian team for FIH League

Senior drag-flicker Sandeep Singh and forward Shivendra Singh on Wednesday returned to the Indian men’s hockey team for the FIH World League Round 3 (semifinals) to be held at Rotterdam, The Netherlands from June 13-23.

Sandeep, who was left out of the Indian squad for Round 2 held here earlier this year, made a comeback to the national side along with Shivendra, who last played for India in last year’s London Olympics.

Sandeep, incidentally, was part of the Indian squad that went to The Netherlands in April for an invitational tour.

Sardar will continue to lead the 18-member squad while drag-flicker VR Raghunath has been named his deputy.

Notable absentees from the squad are midfielder Danish Mujtaba and Gurvinder Singh Chadi as both are injured. While Gurvinder continues to be on the sidelines because of a prolonged ankle injury, Danish is suffering from a ligament tear.
The squad was selected by HI selectors Balbir Singh, BP Govinda, chief coach Michael Nobbs, Roelant Oltmans (Director-High Performance) along with government observer Harbinder Singh during a meeting held on May 17.

The squad has two goal-keepers in P R Sreejesh and P T Rao, four defenders, five mid-fielders and seven forwards. “Both Sandeep and Shivendra have managed to make a comeback sheerly on the basis of their performance and fitness. During the camp they have proved that they still have fire in their gut to represent India,” a national selector said.

The senior men’s team is currently based at the Sports Authority of India, South Centre, Bangalore, where they are attending a national camp, which started on May 16, as final preparations for the upcoming tournament.

The team will depart for Rotterdam on June 5 and its opening match is scheduled against Ireland on June 13.

India is placed in Pool ‘B’ alongside the hosts, New Zealand and Ireland while Australia, Spain, Belgium and fourth team (to be known after the conclusion of the final tournament of FIH World League Round 2 on June 2) will form Pool ‘A’.

Squad: Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh, PT Rao. Defenders: VR Raghunath (vice-captain), Sandeep Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Harbir Singh Sandhu. Midfielders: Birendra Lakra, Sardar Singh (captain), Manpreet Singh, Kothajit Singh, Gurmail Singh. Forwards: SV Sunil, Shivendra Singh, Chinglensana Singh, Nithin Thimmaiah, Dharamvir Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh.

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