Striker Mandeep Singh on Friday claimed that he was rested and not dropped from India’s FIH Pro League team which defeated world champions Germany and Australia twice each.
Mandeep was among the eight players who were left out of the FIH Pro League team after India made a shock pre-quarterfinals exit from the World Cup in Odisha in January.
“Yes, I was told that I was rested not dropped (from the FIH Pro League team). I am looking forward to return to the team,” the-28-year-old Mandeep told PTI when asked why he was not in the team for the FIH Pro League.
“I think some younger players are being tried and tested,” he added, referring to the naming of youngsters like Selvam Karthi and Jugraj Singh.
However, another senior player who featured in the World Cup but was left out of the FIH Pro League team, Akashdeep Singh does not know the reason why he was not in the current squad.
“I don’t know the reason, I was not told,” he said.
“I am sure Mandeep will play in the next Pro League matches and Asian Games also. But I don’t know about myself,” added the 28-year-old Akashdeep, one of the better performers of the Indian team during the World Cup campaign with two goals against Wales.
Besides Mandeep and Akashdeep, the other players who featured in the World Cup but were omitted from the FIH Pro League team included Nilakanta Sharma, Amit Rohidas, Varun Kumar, Surender Kumar and Lalit Kumar Upadhyay. India won all its four FIH Pro League matches played in Rourkela between March 10 ad 15, beating world champions Germany and Australia twice each in a rare achievement to jump to the top of the points table. India will play its next lot of FIH Pro League matches in Europe in May-June.
The team’s main target this year will be the Asian Games in September-October whose gold medallist will book a berth for the 2024 Olympics.
The World Cup debacle led to the sacking of head coach Graham Reid, who has been replaced at the helm by South African Craig Fulton, who is yet to join the team.
The players will get a two-week break before they reassemble in Bengaluru for the national camp.