What’s the story?
Defending champions ATK have been struck with another major blow ahead of the fourth season of the Indian Super League. After star striker Robbie Keane returned to Ireland with an Achilles problem, Ashutosh Mehta and Jayesh Rane have also been struck by injury, adding to the team's growing worries.
On Tuesday morning at the ATK training ground, Rane met with an injury and as per sources close to the club, he could be out for a number of months of the ISL 2017 season. On the other hand, Mehta is expected to return to action in about three weeks after getting injured on Sunday.
In case you didn't know
The former Aizawl FC duo will miss the opening match of the season against the Kerala Blasters in Kochi on Friday. Earlier, star striker Robbie Keane got injured and is likely to come back after two weeks. Midfielder Carl Paul Baker is also out with injury.
The heart of the matter
In most likelihood, ATK are going to miss Keane, Baker and Mehta in their first three games. As far as Rane is concerned, the team management is yet to provide any update but he has some serious injuries for sure.
Last year also, ATK started off with injuries as their star striker Helder Postiga went out of the tournament in the initial stages.
This year, ATK has a new coach in the form of Teddy Sheringham. In the last three seasons, ATK had a Spanish flavour to their team but with Sheringham, things have changed and the manager has promised an 'English way' of things.
Sheringham will be under the scanner in the first match and if they can beat Kerala, the rest of the road should be smoother for them.
It is going to be a tough challenge for ATK to play without their key players. However, it presents a great chance for others to grab the opportunity. With the new season the longest ever in the league's history, this will be an early test of the team's bench strength.Published 14 Nov 2017, 14:57 IST