The Malaysian Juniors have been hit with a spate of injuries with barely 60 days to go before the men's Rabo Junior World Cup in Rotterdam on 29 June-10 July.

The team will leave for Europe on a playing tour on Sunday, but Ismail Abu, Sallehin Ghani, Norikran Sulaiman and Mohamed Suffian will not be on the flight.

'The four players picked up injuries during training and will be left out of the Europe tour so that they can undergo rehabilitation,' said Juniors team manager Ariffin Ghani yesterday.

'Three of them played in the recent Six-Nation, while Ismail has yet to recover from an old injury.' In the absence of penalty corner flicker Mohamed Suffian, coach Sarjit Singh will have the option of testing Baljit Singh.

'We might have to take only 15 players for the tour, depending on the outcome of the MHF meeting today,' said Ariffin. The meeting was scheduled for late last night at which the MHF top brass were down to discuss, among other matters, the selection of the squad for the European tour.

The MHF may decide to replace the injured players, or go on tour with the remaining 15 players as they are running short of time to make the necessary travel arrangements. Yesterday, the injured players also attended training but they only did light workouts.

Also sitting on the bench with the fingers of his right hand fully bandaged was Shahrun Nabil.

'It is a sprain of the middle finger,' explained Shahrun, who will still make the trip to Europe to play against club sides, and one training match against the Netherlands national juniors at the Junior World Cup venue.

And just as team doctor Aston Ngai was getting comfortable on the bench, the ball hit Hafifi Hafiz's face when he went for a rebound. There was a hushed silence and fingers crossed as Hafifi was attended to, but it was not serious and he continued training, much to everyone's relief.

National Sports Institute director Dr Ramlan Aziz, who was watching the team train, said: 'The four boys are not carrying serious injuries, and should be able to recover before the World Cup. But there is no guarantee that others will not get injured as the training tempo picks up.' That is something Sarjit Singh is hoping will not happen.

Article courtesy New Straits Times