Former captains, ace midfielder Sardar Singh and goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, are among the 33 players named by Hockey India on Wednesday for a 10-day national camp to begin on January 4 at the Sports Authority of India, Bengaluru to prepare for the tight schedule ahead.
This year features Commonwealth Games in April followed by the Hockey Champions Trophy Breda in July, the Asian Games Jakarta in August, Asian Champions Trophy in October and the World Cup Bhubaneswar g in November.
India will begin the season with the Four Nations Invitational Tournament in Tauranga and Hamilton, New Zealand which will see Belgium, Japan and the hosts.
“Like always, the evaluation of the previous tournament needs to come from the players so that’s the first thing we do when we meet for this camp. I would like to understand what their experience was of the tournament and what they think needs to improve,” said coach Sjoerd Marijne.
“For me, Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final gave an insight into what is necessary to improve when we play higher ranked teams and I certainly believe we can do better in our 1 vs 1 defending. In the next tour, this will be one of the key areas we would like to improve,” added the 43-year-old Dutchman.
“The camp will be short and we need to deal with the players who just played domestic matches which means we need to be careful in training considering we play eight matches in New Zealand,” opined Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne.
Goalkeeper Krishan B Pathak, part of the winning team of 2016 Junior Men’s World Cup, finds himself in the group along with Akash Anil Chikte and Suraj Karkera. They will be joined by former captain PR Sreejesh, who is vying to find top form after nearly eight months of injury break.
Nilam Sanjeep Xess, the young defender from Sundargarh, Odisha, who led the Indian team to U-18 Asia Cup win in 2016, has been elevated to the Senior Core Group. He will train alongside stalwart Sardar Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Varun Kumar, Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra, Surender Kumar, Gurinder Singh in the back line.
The line-up of midfielders remains unchanged with Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh, S.K. Uthappa, Sumit, Kothajit Singh, Satbir Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Simranjeet Singh, Harjeet Singh in the group.
Young forward Sumit Kumar, who featured in the Indian Junior Men’s Team in 2016, has been included for the camp with seniors’ SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Armaan Qureshi, Affan Yousuf, Talwinder Singh.