Sreejesh not playing for Tamil Nadu

The India star goalkeeper informed the Tamil Nadu head coach Charles Dixon that he has a hamstring injury and cannot play in the Senior Men's National Hockey Championship.

P.R. Sreejesh will not turn up for Tamil Nadu owing to a hamstring injury.   -  K. Murali Kumar

India's star goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh will not play for Tamil Nadu in the Senior Men's National Hockey Championship B division.

The 30-year-old custodian was to play the first three group stage matches. “Since I will be going to Lausanne for the FIH athletes' Commission on January 15, I will play next [for TN] in the semifinals if TN makes the knock-out,” he had said earlier.

That statement took some from Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu (HUTN) by surprise.

For the record, Sreejesh attended the camp on January 4 and 5, along with others, and didn't show any signs of injury. However, on January 7 he informed the Tamil Nadu head coach Charles Dixon that he has a hamstring injury and cannot play anymore. That came as a shock to the coaching staff.

Related: Focussing only on youth not the solution, says Sreejesh

However, the catch lies in the Hockey India rules. It clearly states that a team should have two goalkeepers in the final 18-member team (if a team is one ‘keeper less, the team can field only 16 players). "With 16 players, it will be difficult for me to substitute as every 7th minute I have to change players," explained Dixon to Sportstar on Wednesday.

K.H. Shan, who was part of the 40-day camp for TN probables, was named as a replacement by HUTN.

Placed in Pool G, Tamil Nadu has to play four matches in its group, which means Sreejesh will miss one group match and the quarterfinals. It is learnt that HUTN after realising that TN will be short of two players without Sreejesh, had little choice but to let him go.

Given the hype surrounding the Indian custodian's presence in the 18-member squad, the issue could have been handled better.