It was Robin Singh at first, Eugeneson Lyngdoh second, Dhanpal Ganesh third and now, it's talisman Sunil Chhetri. None of the them will be part of the Indian men's national football team squad that will take on Iran and Turkmenistan in their final two Group D games of the Russia 2018 Preliminary Joint Qualifiers this month.
Chhetri, who didn't travel with the team to Tehran to prepare for their upcoming clash against Iran Thursday, has been ruled out of the game owing to a groin injury he picked up while playing in the I-League. Whether he will play for India against Turkmenistan March 29, however, remains to be seen.
Chhetri's teammates, Robin is out with a long-term injury while Eugeneson is still struggling with a calf injury. Dhanpal, meanwhile, suffered an ACL injury while playing in the Indian Super League last year.
"I was sitting at my room trying to recall as to when I last missed a national team match for injury. It's so disappointing," Chhetri told the AIFF website. "It's such an important match for us and I still can't believe that I would be missing it.
"The gaffer [Stephen Constantine] had a chat with Gigy-Sir [Team Physio Gigy George] and decided to leave me out of the squad to enable me time to get treated and get ready for the next game. At the moment it is obviously not a good feeling to have missed the bus but maybe in the long run, it will probably be for good," the Indian football talisman added.
India may have no chance of progressing to the next round of the World Cup qualifiers, but they will be hoping to making a statement in their last two fixtures of the competition and with it bow out on a high.
The national football team have had an impressive 2016 so far, as they won the SAFF Cup 2015 final in the first week of January and just a month ago, the India U-23 side reached the final of the South Asian Games 2016, where they lost to Nepal with a 2-1 scoreline.
Meanwhile, the likes of goalkeeper TP Rehenesh, fullback Rino Anto, midfielder Malsawmzuala and forwards Alwyn George as well as Md. Rafique are dropped from the India squad ahead of their game against Iran.
Final list of 22 players for India:
Goalkeepers: Subrata Paul, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Karanjit Singh. Defenders: Aiborlang Khongjee, Augistine Fernandes, Arnab Mondal, Pritam Kotal, Sandesh Jhingan, Narayan Das, Lalchhuanmawia. Midfielders: Pronay Halder, Bikash Jairu, Cavin Lobo, Rowlin Borges, Francis Fernandes, Harmanjot Singh Khabra, Udanta Singh, Vineet Rai, Seityasen Singh. Forwards: Jeje Lalpekhlua, Sumeet Passi, Halicharan Narzary.