NATIONAL Juniors coach Arul Selvaraj left out two notable players when he named the final 18 for the Sultan of Johor Cup on Oct 11-18 at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru.
Hamstring injuries floored Sufi Ismat and Rafidzul Ezry, and Arul is keeping his fingers crossed that both will recover in time for the Junior Asia Cup in Kuantan in Nov 14-22.
"It was a tough decision to leave them out but it's best to let them recover for the Junior Asia Cup next month (which is a Junior World Cup qualifier)," said Arul.
"They will remain in the training squad and undergo rehabilitation with NSI (National Sports Institute) and will not travel to Johor.
"I will add another two players to the training squad together with the duo and we will give all 22 players another chance to try for the Junior Asia Cup after the SOJC," said Arul.
The team will depart for Johor Baru Friday morning and play Britain in a friendly at 5pm.
Najib Abu Hassan, 20 and played for Tenaga Nasional in the Malaysia Hockey League Premier Division, will skipper the squad.
The youngest player, the only 18-year-old, is Khaliq Hamirin from Sabah. He played for Universiti Kuala Lumpur in the MHL Premier Division.
Malaysia, who finished fifth in the last edition, will be up against two-time champions India, Australia, Britain, Argentina and Pakistan in the Fifth Edition of the SOJC.
NATIONAL Juniors: Ridzwan Azmi (Gk), Adi Fazri Rahim (Gk), Najib Abu Hassan (capt), Nik Aiman, Ashran Hamsani, Nor Azrul Rahman, Meor Azuan, Haziq Samsul, Firdaus Omar, Khaliq Hamirin, Norsyafiq Sumantri, Amirol Aideed, Shahril Saabah, Zulpidaus Mizun, Syed Syafiq, Azwar Rahman, Aminuddin Zain, Najmi Farizal.
Coach: Arul Selvaraj; Asst Coaches: Jivan Mohan and Amin Rahim; Manager: Mirnawan Nawawi.