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Danny Batth, captain of former Premier League club Wolves, wants to play for India

Batth is of mixed English and Sikh Punjabi descent.

News 18 May 2017, 12:24 IST
Danny Batth in a tussle with Chelsea's Diego Costa

Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Danny Batth has signalled his intention of playing for India in the future. Batth, whose father hails from Punjab, paid a visit to the country of his heritage yesterday as he discussed the possibility of representing India with Stephen Constantine, the Indian national team head coach.

According to sources close to the Batth family, the Wolves captain wants to represent India even if that means foregoing his British passport. “Danny is clear about his ambitions and playing for India is one of them. He is even ready to swap his British passport for an Indian one, but the citizenship regulations in India could make things complicated.

Issues with dual citizenship have always been a roadblock as far as playing for the Indian national team is concerned. An Indian-origin footballer playing abroad has to forego his foreign passport and stay in India for 12 months to apply for Indian citizenship. Only Indian citizens can play for the Indian national team.

Michael Chopra, who has played for the likes of Newcastle United and Sunderland in the Premier League during his long career, also made advances towards playing for India but the complexity of the citizenship rules meant that the Indian-origin striker couldn’t play for the Blue Tigers.

Batth saw his Wolves side finish 15th in the recently concluded 2016–17 Championship campaign. The 26-year-old started 39 of the club’s 46 league games, helping them keep eight clean sheets. He also scored four league goals and played the full ninety minutes of a fifth round FA Cup tie against Chelsea which Wolves lost 2–0.

The central defender has been one of the most consistent Championship performers over the past few seasons, even attracting interest from Premier League’s Aston Villa in 2014. Batth was in the Wolves squad when the club were in the Premier League from 2009–10 to 2011–12 but didn’t make a single appearance in English football’s top flight. However, he has played in 17 FA Cup and League Cup matches so far in his career.

Batth’s mixed English and Sikh Punjabi descent makes him eligible to represent England and India in international football. Given the disregard for lower league players by the England senior team setup, it is unlikely Batth will make his England bow anytime soon.

That being said, India has kept its door open for the Wolves fan favourite, and his meet-up with Constantine could make for a step in the right direction as far a Batth playing for India is concerned. Having players of the pedigree of Batth will not only boost the level of the Indian national team, but also add some much needed foreign experience which the defender has in spades.

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