Manpreet Singh revels in his all-round responsibilities

In the ongoing Hockey India League, the midfielder has been pushed back to defend for the Ranchi Rays and he has done that admirably, fitting into the role. He understands the change in role is due to the injury to Birendra Lakra, to win for whom he intends to rally his troops.

Manpreet Singh (centre) has performed all types of roles on the field besides donning the goalkeeper's kit.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Every time he has been forced to take up a new duty on the hockey field, Manpreet Singh has made it his own, adding yet another dimension to his already impressive resume. In the ongoing Hockey India League, the midfielder has been pushed back to defend for the Ranchi Rays and he has done that admirably, fitting into the role.

Understandably, he is not worried about his performance despite the dual responsibility. “Biru's (Birendra Lakra) absence has made a huge difference to the team and to my role in the team; there is no doubt about that. He is an excellent player, and as long as he was there in the defence, I was quite relaxed on the field.

“That said, I have never felt it difficult to adjust to any role or position. It only takes a little time to get used to a different role, but I absorb things quickly. Also, having seen Biru for a long time and having developed a good combination with him, I understand the duties and responsibilities of a defender well so it hasn't been a problem,” he said.

Lakra was injured during the league stages and ruled out of the competition. His absence has clearly affected Ranchi but also made the team stronger with Manpreet himself being rock solid. Even in the semifinals that his team lost, it was the attack that faltered while his hobbling off field midway through the play-off for a brief while affected the team's plans.

'Responsibility changes'

“I realise that the responsibility changes and increases when you move from forward to the backline. One mistake can concede a goal that can change the game, so I am giving more attention to it. Errors will happen, no one is perfect but I only think of committing as few as possible,” he said.

The 23-year old has done it all on the field bar donning the goalkeeper's kit. Having been a forward, central midfielder, winger and even having executed penalty corners, he is clear about his new role as a defender now. “I specially concentrate on the Indian players. Whatever I can do in terms of using my observations from the back to help with man marking or calling out a player and try and give directions to the play,” he said.

As part of the core leadership group with the national team and having been captain of the junior side, Manpreet knows what it takes to get the best out of the team. He has made sure he leads from the front.

“He (Lakra) is the best player in our team, everyone respects him a lot and we have to make up for his injury. We have all decided we have to play for him and get the results,” he added.