Ahead of the India hockey men’s team crucial FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers Odisha matches against Russia on November 1 and 2 at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium in Odisha, Hockey India announced the replacement of defender-dragflicker Varun Kumar who sustained an injury on his shoulder and right bicep. He will now be replaced by experienced defender Birender Lakra.

“Varun Kumar injured his shoulder and right bicep on Monday while training. He has been receiving treatment since then but unfortunately it has not shown enough signs of improvement,” explained head coach Graham Reid.

“Following the advice from our medical staff who have suggested that he requires rest for a few weeks before he returns to action. Hence, we have decided to replace him with Birendra Lakra, a class defender with over 170 International Caps. He is very experienced and knows well the conditions in Bhubaneswar and is ready to play.”

The Indian team will face Russia at 8 pm at the Kalinga Stadium on November 1 and 2 while the Indian Women’s Team will take on USA at 6 pm on the same day.

The matches will be telecast live on Star Sports 1 and Star Sports 1 HD.