A new member has joined the Indian hockey squad as it seeks to pull off an impressive performance at the upcoming World Cup in Germany.
Physical trainer Derick Knos from Western Australia joined the team at the ongoing fitness camp here and will work closely with the players till the World Cup, to be held at Monchengladbach from September 6 to 17.
India coach V Baskaran said that the 34-year-old Aussie had expressed happiness over the fitness levels of players and had also devised some new methods of physical training for the squad.
The Indian hockey bosses interacted with Knos, who has worked with the Australian under-21 hockey team before, before hiring him for the job.
Baskaran said the fitness level and the morale of the team was high after the bronze medal finish at Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia last month.
"The boys are in good shape. We will have some light workout sessions for the next three days."
"With the camp ending on Sunday, we will now focus on endurance test of the players. Goalkeepers are doing specific excercises on eye and hand movements and their reflexes have also shown improvement," he said.
The Chennai-based coach said as a part of the preparations, the players were watching matches of the ongoing Champions Trophy in Spain to assess the strength of the top teams of the world.
The Olympic gold medallist reacted sharply to criticism that he did not field the top 11 players at the Azlan Shah tournament. "I do not even care for such comments. A win for the country is to be credited to the players' performance."
"Is not the Indian cricket team winning matches even when Sachin Tendulkar opts out for injury reasons? Holland, Australia and Germany have pools of 25 players and they shuffle them for different tournaments," he said.
Some boys take breaks in the middle to concentrate on education in these countries. "We have the best available players now and we have to work with them and focus on winning matches," he added.
Meanwhile, Indian Hockey Federation Secretary K Jothikumaran said that the selection committee members would meet in Delhi on Thursday to take stock of the players taking part in the camp.
They would also decide dates for practice matches between World Cup bound players and the development team which would compete in the SAF Games in Colombo next month.
The campers will move from Bangalore to Hyderabad for skill training before reaching Chennai on August 11. The SAF Games team members will train in Chennai and will play four matches against the senior team before leaving for Colombo.