New Delhi:India are troubled by fitness problems of some key players as they aim to make it three wins in a row when they take on Syria in the ONGC Nehru Cup football tournament on Thursday.
Deepak Kumar Mondal, who picked up an injury during the clash against Bangladesh on Monday, was on Tuesday ruled out for the Syria tie. An MRI scan conducted on Tuesday made it clear that the defender has accumulated fluid in his knees because of the injury and will need some time to recover.
Coach Bob Houghton will be keeping a close eye on the recovery of midfielder N P Pradeep, who could not play in the Bangladesh match.
With full six points in their kitty from two games, India may be sitting pretty on top of the table, but they know that the games against physically stronger teams Syria and Kyrgyzstan would be the real hurdles on their way to book a berth in the final.
After the 6-0 rout of Cambodia in the first match on Friday, the Indians were largely unimpressive against subcontinental rivals Bangladesh and Houghton will be aware that his team needs to pull up its socks for the next outing.
Houghton said the team missed Pradeep's presence against Bangladesh and Mondal's forced substitution in the 51st minute allowed India's eastern neighbours to dominate the proceedings
and come close to scoring on more than one occasion.
It was only the agility of man-of-the-match custodian Subrata Paul that helped India maintain the 1-0 lead. But Houghton would be aware that the goalkeeper will require better cover when he faces stronger opponents.