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Hockey India League: Injury-hit Indian midfielder Birendra Lakra in rehab mode

Let's hope the Odisha lad is fit as a fiddle before the national teams international assignments kick off with the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

Lakra has been an integral part of the national team over the last few years.

Injuries can be a ‘frustrating’ thing for any player and nobody knows it well enough than Indian midfielder Birendra Lakra, who was forced out of the 4th Coal India Hockey India League midway through the league owing to a knee injury.

The 26-year-old Odisha lad, who sustained an injury to his right knee during Kalinga Lancers’ February 3 away game against Dabang Mumbai, which they lost 5-7, is now going through the rehab phase.

“I’m taking rest now and hope to be back soon. I will consult the doctor soon and that will give me a proper picture of how sooner I can return to competitive action,” says the demure midfielder.

There was a media report which suggested that Lakra’s injury has put a question mark on his availability for the 2016 Rio Olympics. “I have also heard about this report – don’t know who wrote that report. All I can tell you is that I’m recovering and hope to be back soon,” he says.

Now that the 4th Coal India Hockey India League is over, the focus will shift to the national team’s preparations for the Rio Olympics.

“Our national camp will be held in the month of March. I’m keeping my fingers crossed,” he exudes his comeback hopes.

The disappointment of not being to contribute to Ranchi Ray’s HIL campaign is evident. “It’s not a great feeling to sit out carrying an injury. I would have loved to play all the games for Rays but you cannot control injuries. I just hope our boys win the league for the third time,” says Lakra, the 2012 Olympian, who had only recently got engaged to Bengaluru-based Rashmita Kerketta. “We got engaged on January 5 – as for my marriage I have not thought about it now,” he signs.

Lakra has been an integral part of the national team over the last few years. He is solid in the midfield and has off late switched to a fullback role – a role he has performed with aplomb.

One hopes the Odisha lad is fit as a fiddle before the national team’s international assignments kick off with the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in April. Equally important is the fact that Lakra returns to the team fully fit without any niggles as this being the Olympic year as the country cannot afford to endure such injury setbacks.

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