New Delhi: Only a flurry of goals and a Rock-of-Gibraltar like presence at the back in the ongoing HIL can reopen the national team door for out-of-favour players like Tushar Khandekar and Sandeep Singh, reckons Indian hockey coach Michael Nobbs.
"Performance is the only criteria for these people (Sandeep, Tushar and Bharat Chetri) to come and what better than performing in the league. After all a forward has to score goals and a defender has to defend well," Nobbs told PTI.
The 59-year-old Australian said his priority now is to groom youngsters for the Junior Hockey World Cup, scheduled to be held here in December.
"Indo-Pak (series) is unlikely to happen now (due to simmering tension on the LOC). Our entire focus is on Junior World Cup. We need to build a strong team for that tournament," he said on the sidelines of a promotional event here on Thursday.
The Aussie was of the opinion that the Hockey India League franchises were "crazy" in the beginning of the bidding process, which left them with little money in the end.
"Some good players such as Ashley Jackson were left till the end. They went crazy in the beginning of the auction. Hopefully next time the franchises would come with a different attitude and more homework," he said.
Nobbs said that he had received a call from India and Delhi Waveriders skipper Sardar Singh after their win over Mumbai Magicians.
"Coach this is fantastic. Where else would these young players get this opportunity to play with such big players", were Sardar's first few words, Nobbs informed.
Nobbs, who would be travelling to Lucknow to see the Uttar Pradesh Wizards take on Delhi tomorrow, said it is a good opportunity for youngsters to show their mettle.
"If a player showcases his talent amongst the best it means he has the potential to be an Indian team member," he said.
According to Nobbs, the beauty of tournaments like HIL lies in the extended run given to players.
"A good run for 13-15 games continuously would boost a youngster's confidence and give him a sense of belonging to that international standard.
"They can learn heaps by training with international hockey stars."
Nobbs said that he is satisfied with the performance of the national team that finished fourth in the Champions Trophy in Melbourne and runners up at the Asian championships.
He felt it's a challenging task to coach franchise-based sides which have players from diverse backgrounds.
"It requires two-three games for each side to get into the groove, to settle combinations. Matching different styles of play be it Australian, Asian, European will definitely take some time."
Nobbs said that he is watching most of HIL action on his laptop.
"I am not travelling for every game. I am following matches on youtube. The league is brilliant, completely international standard," he remarked.
Story first published on: Friday, 18 January 2013 19:16 IST