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Stopper gets going post injury

Being part of Kolkata’s Pailan Arrows means that center-back Deepak Devrani rarely gets time to visit his family back in Delhi.

Written by Jonathan Selvaraj | New Delhi | Published: June 14, 2012 1:40:56 am

Being part of Kolkata’s Pailan Arrows means that center-back Deepak Devrani rarely gets time to visit his family back in Delhi. So now that his India U-22 camp for the Asia Championships in the capital had declared a rest day,it would have seemed likely that the 19-year-old would have met them. Devrani who is still recovering from a knee injury,however,decided to stay closeted in the team hotel and participate in swimming and gym sessions.

“My family keeps saying to come and visit but I keep telling them that it is not possible. I would rather stay in the hotel and work on my fitness. Because I have had almost a month off it is hard to regain match fitness. It’s a bit disappointing that while the entire team was training,I have had to concentrate on gym and swimming but I can’t wait to get back and train with full intensity with the team,” he says.

Devrani picked up his injury against Churchill Brothers in the final game of the 2011/12 season of the I League. To add insult,his injury was caused by his own teammates. “There was an aerial ball coming towards the goal and alongside me and another defender,our goalkeeper also jumped for the ball. My knee got trapped between the defender’s leg and the goalkeeper’s foot. I played for a little bit after that but I had to get off the field soon after that because I just wasn’t able to walk,” he says. When an MRI scan confirmed a meniscus tear,Devrani went straight away for therapy. “I have been really fortunate that it has healed as well as it did,” he said.

Despite getting treatment,the injury which came just before the start of the India U-22 camp,Devrani was left devastated. “When the camp for the U-22 squad was announced,a new coach in Arthur Papas was named. He was completely new to India and had never seen me in action. While the others could show him their skills,I wondered why would he pick me. I am very grateful to Narayan Menon,the Indian coach who convinced him to pick me,” he says.

In that sense Devrani adds that perhaps he did enjoy a bit of luck after all. “I picked up my injury right before the start of the India camp but in a way it was also lucky because it came right in the end of the professional season. I got to start in four matches in the I League and ten matches in total and that gave me plenty of game time. So Menon sir was able to see my performance,” he says.

Despite his rustiness,coach Papas played him for 30 minutes in a practice match against club side Delhi United on Tuesday. With his right knee strapped he definitely was off the pace,but he did enough to deny the opposition. “It was a good feeling to get back on the field. Despite my injury I still felt stronger than their strikers,” he says.

In a day’s time Devrani will be making his way along with a 23-strong India squad to Muscat for the Asian Championships. And while he is unsure whether or not he will get a game,he insists he will give his all. “Considering my injury,most coaches wouldn’t even have considered me. Now that they have put so much faith in me,I have to perform,” he says.

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