I don’t have a fixed starting XI: Nobbs

February 16th, 2012 - 5:51 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 16 (IANS) Chief coach Michael Nobbs Thursday said there is no fixed starting eleven in the Indian men’s hockey team and all 18 players are good enough to start in the 2012 London Olympics qualifiers here Feb 18-26.

The Australian said he has full faith in the 18-man squad and the players are capable of taking each other’s place.

“We don’t have a fixed starting first XI. I have faith in my team and with the rotation system this doesn’t happen as well,” said Nobbs after a training session at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here.

Nobbs said the team is injury-free and ready for the tournament. He also said that the team has been simulating match situations during practice sessions.

“The boys are ready and there are no injuries. We are having intense practice sessions and have been replicating match situations during practice. We have been practising in late evenings since we will be playing all our matches from 8 p.m.,” said Nobbs.

Asked if the team has played enough practice matches to prepare for the tournament, Nobbs said: “In my coaching career I had tried both ways. I think there should be a final balance.”

India captain Bharat Chettri added that the first two games against Singapore and Italy would indeed turn out to be practice matches for the hosts.

“We have improved with each passing day. We had good practice sessions. In fact, I feel the first two matches against Singapore and Italy would be practice matches,” he said.

Senior defender Sandeep Singh said former India captain Dilip Tirkey has worked hard on the defence.

“Dilip was one of the best defenders in international hockey. During the last few days, the knowledge that he passed on to us has been of great help,” he said.

Nobbs was happy with the way the ace drag-flicker has worked on his defensive skills and said Sandeep would be playing upfront as well.

“Sandeep has improved immensely as a defender. In Australia, he played as a centre forward as well. He is a very mobile player and in the qualifiers we will see him playing as an all-rounder,” he said.

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