Former captain Sardar Singh and forward Ramandeep were "rested" while experienced defenders Rupinder Pal Singh and Birendra Lakra returned to the Indian squad which was named on Friday for the Hockey World League (HWL) Final, starting on December 1 in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
Hockey India (HI) chairman of selectors, Harbinder Singh, told IANS that their main aim is not only to ensure that the players remain injury-free ahead of 2018, which will see India play four big tournaments, but also to give chance to everyone.
Opportunity for everyone
"No one has been dropped. Players are getting rest. The squad members have been picked on rotation basis. Next year, we have four major tournaments lined up. So keeping players injury-free and fresh is important," Harbinder reasoned.
Next year, India will compete in Commonwealth Games, FIH Champions Trophy, Asian Games and FIH World Cup.
Rupinder and Birendra returned after overcoming injuries, while experienced goalkeeper PR Sreejesh continues his recovery from an injury. The team will see Akash Chikte and Suraj Karkera guard the Indian goal-post.
"It is good to have Rupinder, who brings great experience, as well as Birendra back in the team. Both are 100 per cent fit and eager to wear the India colours again," stated the 43-year-old Dutch tactician.
Manpreet returns as the captain
The Indian team will be led by 25-year-old midfielder Manpreet Singh, while the responsibilities of his deputy will be shouldered by Chinglensana Singh. The midfield will see SK Uthappa, Kothajit Singh and Sumit join Manpreet and Chinglensana.
Junior World Cup-winning players Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar and Dipsan Tirkey, who have had promising outings in Europe and Asia Cup, too find themselves in the squad for the season finale.
India are grouped with Australia, England and Germany in Pool B and will begin their campaign on the opening day against defending champions Australia.
Goalkeepers: Akash Anil Chikte, Suraj Karkera.
Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Varun Kumar, Rupinderpal Singh, Birendra Lakra.
Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (Captain), Chinglensana Singh (Vice-Captain), S.K. Uthappa, Sumit, Kothajit Singh.
Forwards: S.V. Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh.