Cover called in for injured Chettri

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> East Bengal's new recruit Subhash Singh has been called up as cover for star striker Chhetri, who is in doubt due to an ankle injury for the Nehru Cup.

Updated: August 12, 2009 14:56 IST
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East Bengal's new recruit Subhash Singh has been called up as cover for star striker Sunil Chhetri, who is in doubt due to an ankle injury for the Nehru Cup from August 19- 31 in New Delhi.

Chhetri was in the 27-strong Indian team for the month-long Barcelona tour and played two friendly games there but coach Bob Houghton on Wednesday said the striker is doubtful for the five-nation Nehru Cup though "he is not ruled out as of now".

"As of now I can say he is against being fit for the tournament. But I am not ruling him out and still hoping he can play a part in the later stages of the tournament," Houghton told reporters after the team's two-hour long training session here.

"Chhetri has a long career ahead, may be 10 years. He Has been a key player in the scheme of things. So we can't rush and risk him if he is not fit. But I can't tell you now if he will be in the Indian squad of 20 for the tournament," he added.

"Sushil Singh also has some stiffness in his legs so we are calling Subhash Singh for the camp and he will join on Thursday."

Asked what he thought of the conditions here after training at the top-class facilities in Barcelona, Houghton said, "What can I say... it may not be a disadvantage but it is a disappointment. It is a mystery that a country of this size and resources does not have proper facilities for training."

"You cannot have good games on bad grounds. Even Maradonna or Michael Platini will not be able to perform in these kind of surfaces," he said.

The experienced Englishman, however, said unsatisfactory conditions could not be an excuse for non-performance and his boys will have to do well in the Nehru Cup.

"We have to now focus on the tournament and there are no excuses for not doing well. It is not going to be easy to win the tournament but I think we have a chance."

Earlier, the tournament was to be a six-team event with top two from each of the two pools making it to the semifinals. But after Palestine's dropping, the tournament will be a round-robin affair among five teams and Houghton has no problems with it.

"It is better because we are going to play more matches, four in the round-robin and fifth one if hopefully we are in the final. In the earlier one (six-team scenario) we would play two league games and two knock-out," Houghton said.

"I am not a fan of playing too many matches in a short time but now we need to play more matches since we have played few international matches (the last one in Januray)," he added.

The draw of the tournament has not been out but Houghton said India would be playing with Lebanon in their first match.

"It would be a good match. In the last meeting they had beaten us 4-1 in the World Cup qualifier."

Explaining Syria's rise in the top 100 of the FIFA rankings as against India's 156th, Houghton said, "They have played a lot of matches in the last one year and so they have risen in rankings. We played our last international match in January (against Hong Kong)."

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