Singh ‘long shot’ for playoff duty

Andrew Voerman



Stuff NZ Newspapers


All the signs are pointing towards Sarpreet Singh being absent when the All Whites squad for June’s one-off World Cup qualifying playoff against Costa Rica is named on Tuesday. A final decision will be left as late as possible before then, but coach Danny Hay said it was ‘‘doubtful’’ the attacking midfielder would be included, describing him as ‘‘a long shot’’ to make the cut as he battles a long-running injury. The condition Singh has is called osteitis pubis and he said it had caused him ‘‘incredible pain’’ at times over the past four months, as well as taking a toll on him mentally during his third season playing in Germany. He hasn’t played a full match since February 12, has only made two appearances since the start of March, and has spent the last three weeks at home in New Zealand rehabbing with All Whites staff. It has been six weeks since he did any sort of football activity or running and with just over four weeks to go until the Costa Rica match in Doha on June 14, he is treading very cautiously, making an early call on his involvement likely. ‘‘I think I have a long way to go until I know I’m fit to play,’’ Singh said. ‘‘I want to do everything I can to be able to be fit and play, but ultimately I have to listen to my body. ‘‘I do have a lot of discomfort, I haven’t even started running or doing change-of-direction work and things like that. ‘‘I’m just taking it day-by-day and when we have to make a decision, we’ll make a decision together.’’ Singh felt the impact of his injury in his second training back after the Christmas break in Germany, where he was playing for Jahn Regensburg in the second-tier 2. Bundesliga. ‘‘It’s an overloading type issue and it can take a while to get rid off. ‘‘Some say it can last months, some say you have to have a break completely from football or activity, others say you just need to strengthen certain muscle groups and it’ll reduce the stress on your pubic bone.’’ At its worst, the pain Singh has been experiencing in his pelvic and groin region left him in agony completing everyday tasks. ‘‘I remember after games, the next day, I couldn’t even put on my pants properly. ‘‘Having to put your force through one leg, it was just incredible pain. Hopping into the car, getting out of the car – incredible pain. ‘‘For a certain time, I was literally resting for four days, training for one or two days, playing the game and then doing it again, and again and again, my body was just breaking down. At that time it was really not nice. ‘‘Even now, to be fair, it’s still there. Just sneezing, for example . . . I still feel it, which is why I know there’s still a lot of work to be done until I’m fully 100% fit, but I think now it’s getting towards the right track with rest.’’ Singh is coming to the end of his third year in Germany, after moving from the Wellington Phoenix to European superclub Bayern Munich in July 2019. In his first season, he made two first-team appearances, but went out on loan again this season, turning down the chance to play at the Tokyo Olympics in order to hit the ground running. Before his injury sidelined him, Singh was one of the best players in the 2. Bundesliga, racking up five goals and eight assists in 25 matches. But this has ended up being the most challenging season of the 23-year-old’s career. ‘‘It takes its toll on you mentally because you wake up and you want to train, you want to be free, but it’s not been like that,’’ Singh said. ‘‘I’ve never really been injured before . . .’’