INDIA CAPTAIN Sardar Singh, five-time world hockey Player of the Year Jamie Dwyer of Australia, talismanic German midfielders Moritz Furste and Tobias Hauke are expected to be among the star attractions at the Hockey India League (HIL) players' auction to be held in New Delhi on Thursday, as reported by IANS.
Of the 276 players who will be a part of the auction, 135 are home-grown while the rest are foreigners.
Centre-half Sardar, who captained Delhi Waveriders (DWR) to the title in 2014, was released by the capital's franchise. Playmaker Dwyer, 36, played for Jaypee Punjab Warriors (JPW) for three years before the Chandigarh-based side released the Australian.
Waveriders also released defender-dragflicker Rupinderpal Singh, forwards Akashdeep Singh, Danish Mujtaba and German goalkeeper Nicolas Jacobi. The quartet will also be on the radar of the franchisees.
Apart from Dwyer, JPW released experienced players like Kieran Govers, Sandeep Singh, Lucas Rey, Dharamvir Singh and Simon Orchard and they are also expected to be picked.
This year, franchises are allowed to have a squad of 20 players, four less than last time, comprising 12 Indians and a maximum of eight foreigners.
The squad must have at least two goalkeepers and all players should be mentioned in the match sheet and be present at the team dug-outs.
The HIL organisers have attempted to spice things up this year, introducing rules to encourage more skillful and tactical hockey.
According to the new rules, each field goal will count as two. To curb rough tackles and maintain discipline among players, two goal points will also awarded to every penalty stroke goal scored other than those penalty strokes resulting from penalty corners, which will be worth one goal point.
Goals scored from penalty corners themselves will be worth one goal point.
With the new rules putting more emphasis on attacking play, the franchises are expected to splurge on talented forwards. They will have a good option in young India internationals Nikkin and Nithin Thimmaiah along with midfielder S.K. Uthappa who have been released by Uttar Pradesh Wizards (UPW).
Young Indian forwards like Gurwinder Singh Chandi, Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Affan Yousuf and Malak Singh may also expect a fair amount of interest from the franchises.
Also present at the auction will be International Hockey Federation (FIH) CEO Kelly Fairweather as the new regulations get the backing of the FIH.
The auction will be conducted by Bob Hayton, who had also managed the inaugural HIL auction. The renewed contract of the players will be for two years.
Not retaining the dependable Australian goalkeeper George Bazeley by the Wizards makes the upcoming auction more interesting as the choice to pick from experienced custodians increases.
Also, with Pardeep Mor available for the auction, the young defender will also prove to be a good pick for the franchisees.
The release of Chinglensana Singh by Dabang Mumbai gives many the option to get him on board with the hope that he will provide goals like he did last season. Also with Mathew Swann and Glenn Turner set to feature in the auction, the franchisees will not mind having the experience of the Australian attackers at their disposal.
Kalinga Lancers released foreigners Gonzalo Peillat, Glenn Simpson and Lucas Villa, which will make the auction interesting. In Harjot Singh, the franchises will have a world class goalkeeper to bid for.
Post making the choice of holding back their six key players, Ranchi Rays had to release names like Trent Mitton, Furste, Austin Smith, Justin Reid-Ross along with Sushant Tirkey, Mandeep Singh and Stanli Victor Minz.
Apart from the released players from each team, many new players will also be available through the bidding process for the first time.
Young and agile goalkeeper Akash Chikte, who made many heads turn during this year's 5th Hockey India National Championship, along with Sunil Yadav will have every franchisee actively bidding for them.
Yadav has scored 10 goals for his state team this year.
Young Indian defenders like Jasjit Singh Kular and Amit Rohidas will also feature in the auction.
From reigning Olympic champions Germany, former world players of the years -- Furste and Hauke, forwards Florian Fuchs, Oliver Korn, Christopher Ruhr, Mats Grambush, Jaan Philippe Rabente and goalkeeper Jacobi will go under the hammer.
New Zealanders Stephen Jenness, Hugo Inglis, Nick Wilson, veteran Phil Burrows, Arun Panchia, Ryan Archibald, Shea McAleese, Andrew Hayward and Devon Manchester will also be part of the auction to be conducted by auctioneer Bob Hayton of London.
In the last few years, Argentina have grown into a strong team -- the highlight being the bronze medal at the 2014 World Cup. Their players -- Juan Manuel Vivaldi, Juan Ignacio Gilardi, Peillat, Matias Rey, Pedro Ibarra, Lucas Rey, Juan Martin Lopez, Agustin Mazilli, Matias Paredes, Facunbdo Callioni -- could be hot properties.
The HIL's costliest player -- star Belgian striker Tom Boon who is worth $103,000 -- won't go under the hammer despite being released by Mumbai.