New Delhi [India], Feb 15 (ANI): While former hockey skipper Sardara Singh’s place in the upcoming World Cup squad is under clouds, retired player and manager of the national team Dhanraj Pillay has showed confidence in the mid-fielder, saying he will surely make it into the squad.

“Sardara is one player who has given a lot of medals and has won a lot of matches. I have confidence that he will make it in the World Cup team,” Pillay told ANI.

Sardara was recently axed from the 18-member squad for the Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha.

For the past year he has been pushed to give up his customary playmaker’s role to current skipper Manpreet Singh and was asked to play in the ‘free man’ role in defence during the Asia Cup.

Talking about Sardara’s dwindling position in the team, former captain Pillay said, “He is one player in the team who can play anywhere, as a forward, as a defender as a fullback. He guides the team in the right time. He is one of the senior-most player and we need to respect his contribution to the hockey and to the nation.”

Lauding the Indian team, the 49-year-old said that Indian hockey is in right hands and path and just need to focus on their fitness.

Asked what the team currently lack for podium finishes in major tournaments, Pillay said, “India need one gold medal in the Olympics and the World Cup. Once we get that Indian hockey will be somewhere else in the world. You can compare them to Australia and Germany. India is going on the right track.”

Meanwhile, head coach Sjoerd Marijne did not comment on Sardara’s certainty in the team.

“There is never a fixed position for no one so I never talk about individual players,” Marijne said.

Talking about player line-up, he said, “There are a lot of tournaments so you cannot use 20 players. So we are happy we have depth in our group so we can change. We always make sure we mix of have senior and junior players or experienced and less experienced players, so we have chance of playing at the highest level.”

The Men’s Hockey World Cup will be held in Odisha between 28 November and 16 December.

25 officials representing 19 countries from all five continents will officiate at this prestigious event taking place at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. (ANI)

This is published unedited from the ANI feed.