Even as the Indian team is undergoing a training camp here for the upcoming Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia, a few senior players are missing from action and may be left out for the event.
Experienced defender Dilip Tirkey and forward Gagan Ajit Singh, currently playing in the Dutch league, have not yet reported for the camp at the SAI Centre in Bangalore. The duo, who had special permission from the Indian Hockey Federation to skip the camp, along with drag-flicker Sandeep Singh, had been reportedly asked to return for the selection trials on Friday in order to be considered for the Azlan Shah, beginning May 5 in Ipoh.
However, while Sandeep joined the camp on Wednesday evening but had to rush home to attend an ailing family member, Tirkey and Gagan had not joined the camp till Thursday evening.
It is learnt that the two players were initially told to continue with the Dutch league, since the IHF wanted to test new players in Malaysia after India’s dismal performance in the Asian Games. But the federation later decided to ask the two senior players to return and report for the trials. They were initially to join the camp on Tuesday, but had reportedly informed the IHF that they couldn’t manage the air tickets before Saturday and thus would be joining the camp only on Sunday or Monday.
Confirming that the selection trials, in the presence of national selectors Gurbuksh Singh, Harmeek Singh and government observer Ajit Pal Singh, would go ahead as scheduled, IHF president KPS Gill said those failing to attend would not be considered. “I have never heard a sportsperson being selected without attending the camp or trials. We will also not do so,” Gill told HT over phone from New Delhi.
Asked whether the players had conveyed the reason for not joining the camp, Gill said that it was between the IHF and the players and could not be divulged. IHF secretary K Jothikumaran said it would not be a big issue and if the two are unable to report for the trials, they would be considered for forthcoming tournaments.
However, a source told HT that the Dutch club the two Indians are representing will be playing a crucial league match on Friday, “And it seems Tirkey and Gagan have been asked to stay back and play that match.”