Former captain Rajpal Singh has questioned Hockey India's decision to rule him "unfit" for the Olympic qualifiers without even conducting his fitness test.
The qualifiers will be held at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here, from February 18 to 26. The notable omissions from the 18-member squad were Rajpal and Gurbaj Singh.
On the other hand, Rajpal has asked that on what parameters was his fitness judged. "There was not a single fitness test done. The coach (Michael Nobbs) told me that a fitness test would be conducted on January 21 but nothing happened. And as far as my fitness is concerned, would be able to train with the team if I was unfit in the first place?" Rajpal questioned, reminding that he has played a Test match in the recently-concluded series against South Africa.
What made Rajpal more angry was that he wasn't officially intimated about his omission. "Having served India for so many years, I deserve a bit more respect from the officials. Didn't they have the courtesy to inform me that I have been dropped. Till now, I have not been officially intimated about my exclusion," he fumed.
When PTI contacted HI selector Col. Balbir Singh confirmed that Rajpal and Gurbaj have been overlooked due to "fitness reasons."
"Team trainer David John told us that they (Rajpal and Gurbaj) are not fully fit. They are experienced players and can always come back when they are hundred percent fit," the selector said.
Rajpal had an appendicitis operation in October last year. What has irked him more was that on his comeback trail, no special rehab programme was arranged by the support staff.
"Normally, when a player makes a comeback, there is a special recuperation programme for that particular player. In my case, nothing of that sort has been arranged," he lamented.
However he is hopeful that he will soon be making a comeback.
"My job is to play for the country and I will keep doing that. I want to play for India and willÂ always be available for selection," the veteran midfielder said.
He also expressed confidence that this team will qualify for the quadrennial extravaganza in London, later this year. "India is playing well and I am confident that we will qualify for Olympics. My dream is also to represent India in Olympics and win a medal like any other player. I will wait for my turn," said Rajpal.