| India probables (from left) M. Suresh, Basudeb Mondal and R.C. Prakash during Friday afternoon’s training session at SAI. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: East Bengal defender Arun Malhotra, called to join the SAFF Cup camp following the injury-induced withdrawals of Dipak Mondal and Mahesh Gawli Thursday, is unlikely to join the national probables in a hurry.
Malhotra, dropped from the Asian Games squad after failing a dope test, is with East Bengal in Delhi for the Durand Cup.
As the club is without Mondal and M. Suresh (already in the camp which got underway at SAI Eastern Centre Thursday), it is learnt that East Bengal are reluctant to release Malhotra at the moment.
The club may let him join the camp not before January 6, which will give Malhotra a couple of days to prove his abilities.
National coach Stephen Constantine is known to be a strict disciplinarian and unlikely to tolerate late entrants in the camp. If East Bengal maintain their stand, Constantine may well choose to do away with Malhotra.
I.M. Vijayan, Jo Paul Ancheri, Basudeb Mondal and S. Venkatesh joined the camp Friday.
Still awaited, apart from Malhotra, is Covan Lawrence of Salgaocar and assistant coach Sukhwinder Singh, who is busy with club commitments.
The tournament will be played in Dhaka from January 10-18. India, winners of the last edition of the meet in Goa in 1999, will play Pakistan (January 10), Afghanistan (January 12) and Sri Lanka (January 14) in the group phase.