India national football team coach Stephen Constantine announced a 20-member squad on Monday, ahead of their two 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers against Laos next month. While the first leg is scheduled to take place on June 2, the return leg game for Constantine's side is set for June 7.
As many as seven Bengaluru FC players, including the likes of Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh and Eugeneson Lyngdoh, have made it to the squad.
The squad also features Stabaek FC goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who made history on Sunday after becoming the first Indian footballer to appear in an European top flight game. The former East Bengal custodian not only achieved a major milestone, but also kept a clean sheet in his Norwegian top division debut game.
A host of key players, including Rowlin Borges, Pronay Halder, Cabin Lobo, Vinit Rai, Bikash Jairu and defender Augustine Fernandes, have been ruled out of the two matches owing to injuries. Striker Robin Singh also misses out as he is still recuperating from the ACL injury he suffered last year.
"We had finalised on a list of 21 players who were to travel to Laos, but now we will be travelling with a squad of 20 players," Constantine was quoted as saying by the official AIFF website. "There's no reason to cry. We have a set of players who are ready. It's an important match for us. The boys showed at the SAFF Championship what they were capable of.
"With not sufficient players available to play 11 vs 11 in the camp, the focus was to improve the fitness levels of the players who reported."
If India manage to win over the two legs, they will book a place for themselves in the 2019 Asian Cup.
Full India squad: Goalkeepers: Subrata Paul (Mumbai City FC), Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Stabaek FC), Amrinder Singh (Bengaluru FC).
Defenders: Rino Anto (Bengaluru FC), Keegan Pereira (Bengaluru FC), Pritam Kotal (Mohun Bagan), Arnab Mondal (East Bengal), Sandesh Jhingan (Kerala Blasters), Chinglensana Singh (Shillong Lajong), Fulganco Cardozo (Sporting Clube de Goa), Narayan Das (East Bengal).
Midfielders: Udanta Singh (Bengaluru FC), Holicharan Narzary (Dempo SC), Seityasen Singh (NorthEast United FC), Md. Rafique (Atletico de Kolkata), Eugenson Lyngdoh (Bengaluru FC), Jackichand Singh (FC Pune City), Alwyn George (Bengaluru FC).
Forwards: Sumeet Passi (Sporting Clube de Goa), Jeje Lalpekhlua (Mohun Bagan), Sunil Chhetri (Bengaluru FC).