India rest skipper Manpreet, Sreejesh for Tokyo Olympics hockey test event

India vs Poland at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup
India vs Poland at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Harmanpreet Singh will don the India captain’s armband in Manpreet Singh’s absence (File Photo)

Captain Manpreet Singh and goalkeeper P R Sreejesh were among a few senior players rested from the Indian hockey team for next month’s Olympic Test event in Tokyo.

Besides Manpreet and Sreejesh, also rested from the 18-member men’s squad for the August 17 to 21 event is defender Surender Kumar.

Dragflicker Harmanpreet Singh will don the captain’s armband in Manpreet’s absence, while striker Mandeep Singh will be his deputy.

Rookies Ashis Topno and Shamsher Singh will make their debut in the national team in the upcoming event.

Experienced striker SV Sunil also made a comeback after recovering from a knee injury. He was sidelined from the national team for nine months.

Experienced dragflicker Rupinder Pal Singh, who returned to the side after last year’s Asian Games for the tour of Australia in May, is another notable absentee from the squad alongside Birendra Lakra and Akashdeep Singh.

In Sreejesh’s absence, Krishan Bahadur Pathak and young Suraj Karkera will don the goalkeeping duties.

India’s chief coach Graham Reid said the decision to rest some senior players were taken keeping in mind the Olympic Qualifiers in November.

“We are resting some senior players including Manpreet Singh, some of whom have played a very rigorous last 12 months of hockey. We will give them a chance to shake off any niggling injuries and get fresh for the next three months of preparation for the November qualifying matches,” the Australian said.

He said the Olympic Test Event provides them with a chance to test some new players.

“With no world ranking points at risk, the Tokyo test event gives us an ideal opportunity to not only get a first hand look at how Tokyo is shaping up for next year’s Olympics but also see some new players. We want to give them chance and see how they fare at the international stage,” Reid said.

The squad: Krishan Bahadur Pathak, Suraj Karkera, Gurinder Singh, Harmanpreet Singh (Captain), Kothajit Singh Khadangbam, Hardik Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Jaskaran Singh, Mandeep Singh (Vice Captain), Gursahibjit Singh, Nilam Sanjeep Xess, Jarmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Ashis Topno, SV Sunil, Gurjant Singh, Shamsher Singh.

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