The centre-back had been substituted with an injury in the friendly against ISL outfit NorthEast United on Wednesday.

The India football team have suffered a heavy blow, as their defensive mainstay Sandesh Jhingan has picked up an ACL tear and has been declared unavailable for the fixture against Bangladesh in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. As per the reports, the defender is expected to be out for as many as six months, which will rule him out of games against Afghanistan (November 14) and Oman (November 19) and Qatar (March 26).

“Injuries have been following us. This is a big blow. If I wanted to pick one player who needs to get injured, he would be the last. He is a leader at the back,” Indian football team head coach Igor Stimac said to TOI.

“There was no contact whatsoever. He was sprinting towards our goal and twisted his leg while trying to turn,” Igor Stimac revealed.

“Anas is an option. He has shown improvement (since joining) and played well for 45 minutes (in the friendly). His experience and influence in the team is our best bet,” the Croatian added.

The Blue Tigers had their preparatory camp in Guwahati and played a friendly match against Indian Super League outfit, NorthEast United FC, which ended in a 1-1 draw, with Sunil Chhetri and Asamoah Gyan scoring for their respective sides. Jhingan who started the game was involved in a collision in the 10th minute of the match and subsequentlylimped off the pitch.

The Kerala Blasters man tried to get back on the field, but the injury was more serious than it was earlier thought and the medical team has now declared that the centre-back won’t be able to take part in the Bangladesh game on 15th October at the Salt Lake Stadium.

Head coach Igor Stimac will be a worried man now, as he has already lost right-back Rahul Bheke to another injury. The Bengaluru man will now be joined by Jhingan in the absentees’ column. The former Kerala Blasters captain played a huge role in India’s 0-0 draw against Qatar away from home, as his partnership with Adil Khan in the heart of the defence has gained a lot of plaudits in a small space of time among the Indian football fans.

Bangladesh, on the other hand, gave a good account of themselves against reigning Asian champions Qatar, despite losing 0-2 at home. Jamie Day’s men showed immense grit and tenacity to hold the dominant Qatar attack for a long time, as bad playing conditions also played a huge role. But, the match definitely suggests that Bangladesh will be a tough nut to crack for India and with absentees like, Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Bheke and Sandesh Jhingan, the job has gotten even tougher for the Blue Tigers.