After eight months of injury layoff, goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, on Monday was named in the 20- member Indian hockey team to be led by midfielder Manpreet Singh for the four-nation Invitational tournament to be held in Tauranga and Hamilton, New Zealand
However, veteran midfielder and former captain Sardar Singh’s name again does not figure in the team released by Hockey India.
Other teams taking part in the tournament slated to commence from 17 January are Belgium, Japan and hosts New Zealand.
Sreejesh will be joined by young goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak a Member of the 2016 Junior World Cup winning team and who was also part of the India ‘A’ team that participated at the Australian Hockey League in September.
New inclusions in the team are forward Dilpreet Singh and midfielder Vivek Sagar Prasad. The duo was rewarded for their promising performance at the 7th Sultan of Johor Cup last year where the team returned home with the Bronze medal.
While Vivek had led the team with great determination and played an instrumental role in the midfield, Dilpreet was India’s goal-getter with nine goals in six matches to his credit.
The defence features Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar – all three will double-up as drag-flickers -along with Birendra Lakra, Surender Kumar, and Gurinder Singh.
The midfield will see skipper Manpreet Singh, vice-captain Chinglensana Singh, Harjeet Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Satbir Singh along with debutants Simranjeet Singh and Vivek Sagar Prasad.
The forward line will see Ramandeep Singh along with Armaan Qureshi, Dilpreet Singh, Mandeep Singh and Lalit Upadhyay.
“The team continues to remain a good mix of young and experienced players. They will get to show their abilities against top quality teams. This is an important year for us with major tournaments in the pipeline and one of our focus areas is to perform consistently especially against higher ranked teams,” said Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne.
“We use this tour for our preparation for the Commonwealth Games and look at progressing to the next level after the previous two tournaments,” he added.
Hockey India’s High-Performance Director David John opined “This tour provides international exposure for some of our younger players in the squad with four of them making their international debut with the senior team.
“We also view this tournament as another opportunity to assess senior players performance under competition.”