New Delhi: Experienced campaigner VR Raghunath's name was surprisingly missing from a 33-member probables list announced by Hockey India on Friday.
Besides Raghunath, the selectors also ignored the experienced Danish Mujtaba and Devinder Walmiki both of whom were part of the Rio Olympics squad.
The probables selected by chief coach Roelant Oltmans along with HI selectors did not feature right back Gurbaj Singh.
Gurbaj, who was the most expensive player in the last Hockey India League bid, continued to get the boot.
Although HI did not give a reason for Raghunath's omission, sources hinted that the strongly built drag-flicker had requested for a break after playing continuously for the past few years.
Sardar Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh have managed to retain their place in the list, picked for a national camp, despite a below-par outing in this year's Hockey India League.
The national camp will commence at the Sports Authority of India in Bengaluru from 14 March.
The list includes as many as 11 players from last year's gold medal junior World Cup winning squad.
The junior team players were also incredible at the recently-concluded Hockey India League, where they held their nerve against some of the world's best players.
While Mandeep Singh, Harjeet Singh, Harmanpreet Singh and Vikas Dahiya have been part of the senior men's camp earlier, defenders Dipsan Tirkey and Gurinder Singh, midfielders Sumit, Nilakanta Sharma, Manpreet and Simranjeet Singh, forward Gurjant Singh are the latest inclusions in the core group, which will be put through the grind ahead of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in April, followed by the Men's Hockey World League Semi-Final London 2017 in June.
20-year-old goalkeeper Suraj Karkera from Mumbai has also received a call-up for the senior men's camp. He was a part of the junior India men's team in the four-nation International Junior hockey tournament in Valencia last year.
Amit Rohidas, who formed an integral part of the 2017 HIL winners Kalinga Lancers defence structure, too finds a place in the core probables list.
The squad includes established stars likes PR Sreejesh, Sardar Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, SV Sunil, Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh, SK Uthappa, Chinglensana Singh, Talwinder Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Surender Kumar, Manpreet Singh among others.
"It was a busy start to the new year with the HIL, where I feel some of the players did extremely well under pressure situations. Like I had mentioned earlier, the selection process for the core probables was based on the players' performances in the year 2016 as well as the 2017 HIL. This is an important year for Indian hockey with the Men's Hockey World League Semi-Final London 2017 and the World League Final in December," said Oltmans.
"This year's performances will be vital in bringing us fresh perspective towards building our game further as we move into the year of the Men's World Cup in 2018. I believe the players will be mentally and physically ready for a new challenge this calender year after a two-week break post the HIL," he added.
The 62-year-old Dutchman will be joined by new recruits Hans Streeder, who has replaced Roger van Gent as the analytical coach for the senior men's team, and Scott Conway, who has been brought in as the new scientific advisor.
While Streeder was earlier with the junior men's Dutch squad and has been in the coaching profession since 1983, Conway from Australia has been practicing sports science since 2011 and was previously with the Institute of Sukan Negara & Malaysian Hockey Confederation.
Goalkeepers: Akash Chikte, PR Sreejesh, Vikas Dahiya, Suraj Karkera.
Defenders: Dipsan Tirkey, Pardeep Mor, Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh, Surender Kumar, Rupinderpal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Jasjit Singh Kular, Gurinder Singh, Amit Rohidas.
Midfielders: Chinglensana Singh, SK Uthappa, Sumit, Satbir Singh, Sardar Singh, Manpreet Singh, Harjeet Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Manpreet, Simranjeet Singh.
Forwards: Ramandeep Singh, SV Sunil, Talwinder Singh, Mandeep Singh, Affan Yousuf, Nikkin Thimmaiah, Gurjant Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay.
Published Date: Mar 11, 2017 03:00 pm | Updated Date: Mar 11, 2017 03:00 pm