All the national team regulars are expected to retain their places as the Indian hockey squad for the London Olympics gets finalised on Friday. With coach Michael Nobbs not inclined to take the risky option of picking just one goalkeeper for the all-important event both Bharat Chhetri and PR Sreejesh will continue to takes turns to be under the bar. The decision is further justified by the fact that the team weak defence has increased the workload on the goalkeepers,which in turn escalates the chances of them getting injured or appear jaded on field.
To overcome the frailty of the back line,the selectors are expected to recall the experienced Ignace Tirkey at the expense of the young drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh. An ordinary run at the recent Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia has been reason for the penalty corner specialist missing the cut. The presence of star drag-flickers Sandeep Singh and VR Raghunath has made the decision easier for selectors.
The inclusion of Ignace will also help free up teams lynchpin Sardar Singh from defensive duties. While Sardar was fluent and created several chances upfront at the London Test event earlier last month – where Ignace played – he appeared tired and overburdened in Malaysia,having to fall back to prop up the defence while also working his way around the midfield.
At the same time,the presence of Birender Lakra at the back would enhance the defence. The coach is also trying to get Manpreet Singh to play as a withdrawn midfielder in an attempt to further bolster the defence.
Up front,Yuvraj Walmiki is likely to make way for Gurvinder Chandi,who has recovered from his hamstring injury suffered during the test event and was impressive during the two-day trials in Pune.
Along with Sardar,Gurbaj Singh,Danish Mujtaba and Kothajit Singh are likely to hold the midfield while SV Sunil,Tushar Khandker,Shivendra Singh,SK Uthappa complete the line-up.