Indian Hockey Team
Sardar Singh is set to lead India in Hockey World League.Reuters

Hockey India announced 18-member India Men's Squad for the upcoming Hockey World League in New Delhi on Tuesday.

They have dropped one of their star drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh, midfielder SK Uthappa and striker Mandeep Singh from the 18-member squad for the Hockey World League, which starts on 20 June at Antwerp in Belgium.

Indian Hockey Team head coach Paul van Ass has justified the decision on dropping the ace drag-flicker from the squad and has said that it is high time that they try out some 'variations' in the squad before the Rio Olympics in 2016.

"It is selection time and you have to be the best to fit into the tactical scheme of the coach. The boys have to fight for their positions and this system is here to stay till the Olympics," said Van Ass in an interview with The Times of India.

"He (Rupinder) is not gone, he is not done. He didn't do anything wrong but we also have to be prepared for any eventuality. Let's be honest when Olympic starts and suppose your two drag-flickers are injured, what do you do then? So, it's always a threat and it's good to try out something else now," Van Ass added. 

India will be playing France in the opening match on 20 June. India are in Pool A alongside France, Poland, Pakistan and Australia while China, Ireland, Malaysia, Great Britain and Belgium are in Pool B.

"Rio is the next step. The idea is to get the best possible squad for Hockey World League final - to be held in New Delhi from November 28 to December 6 this year - and to see how we stand among the top eight hockey-playing countries. We have a new core group of 33 players. Not all are equal but I can always pick my training group from that," added Van Ass.

Yuvraj Walmicki, who was dropped due to a hamstring injury last year has worked hard ever since then and made his way back into the Indian Hockey Team for the upcoming tour.

"Things were going well when that injury happened. I was dropped and went back home. It was difficult to cope with it initially but it always helps to be around people with positive energy and right attitude," said Yuvraj.

"It is difficult to return after a gap of six months, to adapt to the changes. We are at a stage where nothing is permanent in the team. When you get a chance, you need to grab it," added Yuvraj. 

India Full Squad for Hockey World League:

Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh, Harjot Singh

Defenders: Manpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh, VR Ragunath, Jasjit Singh Kular, Gurmail Singh

Midfielders: Gurbaj Singh, Dharamvir Singh, Sardar Singh, Chinglensana Singh, Lalit Upadhyay

Forwards: SV Sunil, Nikkin Thimmaiah, Yuvraj Walmiki, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh.