Former Indian hockey skipper and star goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, who is back in action following an eight-month injury lay-off, on Thursday said that he is now fully fit to play the game at international level.
The 29-year-old was forced to miss some of the key tournaments in 2017 due to a knee injury, which he sustained in the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament last year.
Talking to ANI, Sreejesh said that the upcoming tournament would be a test period for him where he would try to analyze himself as well as improve himself for future.
"This four-nation tournament is going to happen in New Zealand. Eight-month is a huge break and what you are before and after the injury is different. So, it is a test period where I want to improve. This is the time for me where I want to analyze myself and to plan the future programmes," Sreejesh said.
The goalkeeper, however, insisted that he is up for the challenge.
"I think I am good enough now because I started jogging after two months of my injury. So, there was a good sign and then another three more months strengthening and some other trainings to improve my fitness levels. Now, I feel like I am fit enough to play hockey at international level," he said.
India's defence features Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar - all three will double-up as dragflickers. They will be joined by Birendra Lakra, Surender Kumar and Gurinder Singh in the defense-line.
Speaking about the squad for the tournament, Sreejesh said that the team is a perfect blend of young and experienced players before giving special emphasis to defender Harmanpreet Singh.
"The team is really good now and if you analyze the performances in the last two tournaments-Asia Cup and Hockey World League (HWL) Finals. Definitely, the team showed the consistent improvement.
But still, I think we need to improve in a lot of areas. I think the youngsters are really putting efforts and they always try to give their best for the team and that is the positive sign. We have got a mixer of youngsters and seniors. I think more of the players have got 100 caps and that is a good sign for 2018. Especially, Harmanpreet Singh is a really talented player He has got some good skills for penalty corners. It is really important to play a key role in the team. He is an upcoming talent," he said.
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