After ending the year with a bronze medal at the Hockey World League (HWL) Final in Bhubaneswar, the Indian men’s hockey team will report for a 10-day national camp, starting at the Sports Authority of India, Bengaluru, from Thursday.With a busy hockey calendar in 2018 that features Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April followed by the Hockey Champions Trophy at Breda in July, the Asian Games at Jakarta in August, Asian Champions Trophy in October and the much-awaited World Cup at Bhubaneswar in November, Hockey India has announced 33 players for this year’s first national camp.

Goalkeeper Krishan B. Pathak, part of the winning team of 2016 junior men’s World Cup, finds himself in the group along with Akash Anil Chikte and Suraj Karkera who had a promising outing at the Asia Cup and contributed to India’s success at the HWL Final. They will be joined by seasoned compatriot P.R. Sreejesh who is vying to find top form after nearly eight months of injury break. Nilam Sanjeep Xess, the young defender from Bargarh, Odisha who led the Indian team to Under-18 Asia Cup win in 2016, has been elevated to the senior core group.

He will train alongside stalwart Sardar Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Varun Kumar, Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra, Surender Kumar, Gurinder Singh in the back line. The line-up of midfielders remains unchanged with Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh, S.K. Uthappa, Sumit, Kothajit Singh, Satbir Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Simranjeet Singh, Harjeet Singh in the group. Young forward Sumit Kumar, who featured in the junior team in 2016, has been included for the camp with seniors’ S.V. Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Armaan Qureshi, Affan Yousuf and Talwinder Singh.

India will begin the season with the Four Nations Invitational Tournament in Tauranga and Hamilton, New Zealand which will see Belgium, Japan and the hosts in the fray.”The camp will be short and we need to deal with the players who just played domestic matches which means we need to be careful in training considering we play eight matches in New Zealand,” chief coach Sjoerd Marijne said in a statement. “Like always, the evaluation of the previous tournament needs to come from the players so that’s the first thing we do when we meet for this camp.

“I would like to understand what their experience was of the tournament and what they think needs to improve. For me, the HWL Final gave an insight into what is necessary to improve when we play higher ranked teams and I certainly believe we can do better in our 1 vs 1 defending.”In the next tour this will be one of the key areas we would like to improve,” the 43-year-old Dutchman added.