New Delhi: PR Sreejesh took over as India captain from Sardar Singh just before the Rio Olympics in 2016, but an unfortunate knee injury early this year has kept India’s star goalkeeper off the field. He was expected to return for the Hockey World League (HWL) Finals in Bhubaneswar this December, but High Performance Director David John ruled out Sreejesh’s return until the Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Australia next year .Also Read - Hockey India Can't Unilaterally Pull out of CWG, Must Consult With Government: Anurag Thakur

During the league match against Australia at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in May, Sreejesh jammed his right knee into the ground while making a save. An MRI done in Ipoh confirmed it to be a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury, which required a reconstructive procedure. Also Read - Nothing is Certain But Want to Stay With This Team Till Paris Olympics: PR Sreejesh

“Sreejesh won’t play until the Commonwealth Games next year,” said John. “His (post-procedure) recovery and rehabilitation will take close to 5-6 months to heal. Manpreet will continue to be the captain.” Also Read - Hockey: Olympic Champions Belgium 'Disappointed' With FIH as Team India Sweep Annual Awards

The Gold Coast CWG is scheduled for April next year, which would mean almost a year’s absence for Sreejesh from the international turf. However, he is with the senior men’s team at the ongoing national camp in Bengaluru. 

Sreejesh won’t play until the Commonwealth Games next year, John

“It feels good to be back at the national camp and starting some light training with my teammates. When you are with your team, you get the right motivation to work hard every day and get back to the field quickly,” Sreejesh had told PTI.

Manpreet has been named captain for the Asia Cup beginning October 11 in Dhaka, where veteran Sardar Singh and SV Sunil will return after being rested for the Europe tour.

“The players we rested from Europe tour had to come into reckoning,” John, who is acting as India coach until Sjoerd Marijne takes over, said about the selection.

Marijne will make a switch from the women’s team to replace Roelant Oltmans as the chief coach of men’s team.

“Performances of those in Europe have also been rewarded. Three of those juniors (Gurjant Singh, Varun Kumar and Dipsan Tirkey) will play the Asia Cup. A lot of those who have been rested will go to Australia for the hockey league,” John added.

India will play their first match of the Asia Cup against Japan.