New Delhi: Promising forward Sukhjeet Singh was the new face in India’s 20-strong men’s hockey squad announced Tuesday. They will take on Spain in the FIH Pro League tie to be played in Bhubaneswar later this week. The two-leg tie will be played February 26 and 27 and the Indian team will be led by Manpreet Singh. Drag-flick specialist Harmanpreet Singh will serve as Manpreet’s deputy. Odisha’s Dipsan Tirkey has found a place in the squad while Amit Rohidas has been named in the stand-by list.
The 25-year-old Sukhjeet from Punjab was picked in the core group following an impressive stint during the maiden Hockey India Inter-Department National Championship last year.
The 20-member squad for the double-header against Spain, include goalkeepers PR Sreejesh and Suraj Karkera. Harmanpreet, Mandeep Mor, Surender Kumar, Varun Kumar, Jarmanpreet Singh and Dipsan Tirkey are the defenders in the squad.
The midfield will be led by the experience Manpreet who will be supported by Vivek Sagar Prasad, Hardik Singh, Jaskaran Singh, Shamsher Singh, Nilakanta Sharma and Akashdeep Singh.
In the forward line there are the likes of Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and Shilanand Lakr.
“We have chosen a balanced group to play Spain for this weekend and are looking forward to playing at home in Bhubaneswar,” chief coach Graham Reid said in a Hockey India release.
“Debutant striker Sukhjeet Singh impressed during the selection camp last month. He has been working hard since selection in the Core Probable’s Group. Spain has a new coach and will be keen to impress after losing to England. These games are an important step in preparation for what is a very busy year,” Reid added.
India endured mixed results in Pro League matches in South Africa where they won against the hosts but were stunned by France in one game. The loss to France prompted a sharp response from Indian Olympic Association and FIH President Narinder Batra. He demanded an explanation for the setback and even met the Hockey India officials and Reid after their return.
It should also be stated here that Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had met the members of the Indian team at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar and urged them to do well.
(Goalkeepers): PR Sreejesh, Suraj Karkera.
(Defenders): Harmanpreet Singh (vice-captain), Mandeep Mor, Surender Kumar, Varun Kumar, Jarmanpreet Singh, Dipsan Tirkey.
(Midfielders): Manpreet Singh (captain), Vivek Sagar Prasad, Hardik Singh, Jaskaran Singh, Shamsher Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Akashdeep Singh.
(Forwards): Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Shilanand Lakra, Sukhjeet Singh and Abhishek.