Bengaluru, November 15: Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, the India No 1, will feature in Bengaluru FC's maiden game in the Indian Super League against Mumbai City FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday (November 19). He will come in as a replacement for injured Lalthuammawia Ralte.
As per the ISL rules, Gurpreet could play for BFC only after five rounds as he was not part of the player draft. The Blues picked him up from Norwegian side Stabaek FC in a move that involved a transfer fee. He was registered as a reserve player for the ISL.
The reserve player can feature for the club only from the sixth round. Else, he can come in as a replacement at any time for an injured player.
BFC, however, can field the 25-year-old Gurpreet this Sunday as goalkeeper Ralte suffered an injury. The 25-year-old Ralte, also known as Mawia, injured his ankle during a friendly against Minerva Punjab in Ballari last week. A club source said that he's out for three to four weeks.
Confirming that BFC will field Gurpreet, coach Albert Roca said on Wednesday (November 15): "Ralte is out. He suffered an ankle injury during the friendly in Bellary against Minerva Punjab. We have the (ISL) rules that can give us a chance to replace him. So as you say, Gurpreet is not out for five games. We will see if he can start from day one.
"We would like him (Gurpreet) to start. He's the India No 1 goalkeeper after all. He's in the top level and he likes to fight for his place with his companions. Nothing else to say. He's the goalkeeper we wanted. He's in our squad and now for that reason (of Ralte's injury), we can put him in and field him in the Playing XI. We can play him like the AFC Cup. I am happy for that. I am sad for Ralte because he's out for five to six games."
The league allows a club to register two reserve players. In BFC's case, Gurpreet and striker Daniel Lalhlimpuia are the reserves. The other two goalkeepers in the squad are Abhra Mondal and Calvin Abhishek.
As for Mawia, he can return to the squad once fit. However, his recovery period suggests that he will be out for at least five rounds, which means that BFC can field both Gurpreet and Mawia in the later stage of the ISL.