Despite raising doubts on striker Rajpal Singh's availability for the Olympic qualifiers, India's chief hockey coach Michael Nobbs Monday decided to retain the former captain in the core probables of 32.
The group of 45 was cut down to 32 after Hockey India (HI) selectors Balbir Singh, B.P. Govinda, Syed Ali along with Nobbs and government observers Harbinder Singh and Dilip Tirkey watched all the boys against South Africa in the recently concluded five-match Karbonn Cup Test series.
The group will be further pruned to 18 players with four standbys for the Olympic Qualifiers slated for February 18-26 at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here.
After the final match Sunday, Nobbs had said that Rajpal would not be fit in time to play the Olympic qualifiers. Rajpal has been out of action for the past three months after undergoing an appendicitis operation.
"Rajpal is going to need a lot of work. He has been out for nearly 12 weeks. He is going to take a few months before getting back into top shape. He probably won't play (the Olympic qualifiers)," Nobbs said.
Canada, France, Poland, US and Italy are the other teams in the Olympic qualifiers.
Goalkeepers: Bharat Chetri, Sreejesh
Defenders: Sandeep Singh, Raghunath VR, Rupinderpal Singh, Harbir Singh, Gurjinder Singh, Manjeet Kullu
Midfielders: Sardar Singh, Vikram Pillay, Vikas Sharma, Arjun Halappa, Manpreet Singh, V.S. Vinaya, Kothajit Singh, Ignace Tirkey and Birendra Lakra
Forwards: Rajpal Singh, S.V. Sunil, Sarvanjit Singh, Shivendra Singh, Gurvinder Singh, Chandi Tushar Khandker, S.K. Uthappa, Ravipal, Chinglensana Singh, Yuvraj Walmiki, Mandeep Antil, Dharamveer Singh, Bharat, Danish Mujtaba and Akashdeep Singh