Dhanpal Ganesh sidelined due to injury, to miss first half of season

Ganesh was a key member in John Gregory's title winning side in the 2017-18 Indian Super League season.

Dhanpal Ganesh Chennaiyin FC

Dhanpal Ganesh scored twice in the 2017-18 season.   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

Indian Super League champion Chennaiyin FC will miss the services of defensive midfielder Dhanpal Ganesh for majority of the upcoming season as he is nursing a knee injury. The John Gregory-led side unveiled its 25-member squad on Monday.

PREVIEW: Chennaiyin all set to defend the crown

Dhanpal is believed to have injured his left knee during Chennaiyin's pre-season camp in Malaysia and is unlikely to feature in any of the side's matches in the first half of the season until December. While his recovery timeline remains unclear, the club is expecting to have a clearer picture by the end of the eek.

An injury to his right knee saw the Chennai lad spend all of the 2016 season on the sidelines. He made a comeback last season and played a crucial role in Chennaiyin's title-clinching run, including a memorable header against FC Goa in its second leg semifinal clash.

This injury could prove to be a major blow for Dhanpal as it also puts his chances of donning the national jersey at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in jeopardy. He was also forced to miss the Intercontinental Cup held in June after being down with typhoid.

Core players retained

The two-time ISL champion has retained 12 players from its title-winning team, including the four influential foreigners – Raphael Augusto, Mailson Alves, Inigo Calderon, and Gregory Nelson. The arrival of three more international signings – Brazilian defender Eli Sabia, Italian midfielder Andrea Orlandi, and Palestine forward Carlos Antonio Salom – will bolster the side as it bids to become the first team to retain the ISL trophy. 

Chennaiyin will begin its title defence away to last season's runner-up Bengaluru FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday.  

The 25-man squad for start of the 2018-19 ISL:

Goalkeepers: Karanjit Singh, Sanjiban Ghosh, Nikhil Bernard

Defenders: Mailson Alves (Brazil), Eli Sabia (Brazil), Inigo Calderon (Spain), Jerry Lalrinzuala, Tondonba Singh, Laldinliana Renthlei, Zohmingliana Ralte, Hendry Antonay

Midfielders: Raphael Augusto (Brazil), Gregory Nelson (The Netherlands), Andrea Orlandi (Italy), Francisco Fernandes, Thoi Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Germanpreet Singh, Srinivasan Pandiyan, Isaac Vanmalsawma, Bedashwor Singh, Zonunmawia

Forwards: Jeje Lalpekhlua, Mohammed Rafi, Carlos Antonio Salom (Palestine)