Sreejesh targets January returnNovember 8, 2017
BENGALURU: By nature, Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh is full of fun and laughter. But talk about his lengthy injury lay-off and there is sadness in his eyes followed by hope.
The 29-year-old began his long and arduous journey back into the team on Monday by training with the Hockey World League Final-bound Indian team. While he started by padding up and walking in September, he began practising this week. The seasoned pro underwent a surgery-about four months ago-for an anterior cruciate ligament tear in his right knee sustained during the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in April-May this year.
“The recovery process has been gradual but on course. It has been four-and-a-half-months. My first session with the team on Monday was good. I can’t jump straight into the team, so I’m starting with the basics and I’m also working with my physio,” Sreejesh told TOI on Tuesday.
According to Sreejesh, who captained the team at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the road to recovery has been tough. “It is like a second birth. I’ve had to learn everything from the beginning including walking with the gear. I’m not going to look back at the past because it was big. If you keep your expectations high, the disappointments will be than much bigger. So I’m taking it one-day at a time and looking to improve faster so I can regain my confidence.”
The improvement, by Sreejesh’s admission, is showing. “I wanted to get back on the field with my gear by December and I’ve achieved that target a month early. I will train with the team for the next three weeks and on my own next month. So, by the next camp in January next year, I should be back.”
With the World Hockey League Finals slated in Bhubaneswar next month, Sreejesh is looking to help the young goalkeeping duo of Akash Chikte and Suraj Karkera, who came in for high praise from chief coach Sjoerd Marijne for their performance in the Asia Cup. “I think they have enough experience by now. But playing a major tournament in front of the home crowd for the first time is a different experience. So they have to be mentally prepared to cope with crowd pressure.”