The fact that India – a country of 1.4 billion people – has a football team that is ranked 104th in the world is scarcely believable. Admittedly, the sport lags behind the likes of cricket and kabaddi in the popularity stakes but, even so, the nation should surely be able to rank higher than countries such as Lebanon and Vietnam. It was hoped that the Indian Super League would pique youngsters’ interest and promote football as a sport, but the league has tailed off somewhat in recent years. There are some footballers of Indian descent who ply their trade in Europe and you can even bet on them with online bookmakers such as PaddyPower, who provide betting and free offers on football and other sports.

Unfortunately, there are no players of such heritage playing in top leagues such as the Premier League, Seria A or the Bundesliga. That doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be great additions to the national team setup, should manager Igor Štimac be able to convince them to switch allegiances. Unfortunately, Bayern Munich’s Sarpreet Singh doesn’t feature on this list, despite being of Indian heritage, due to the fact that he has been capped six times by New Zealand. Here are three players that could join the Blue Tigers in the future though.

Danny Batth

Danny Batth has been a staple of the English football league for over a decade, ever since he broke into the Colchester United team back in 2009. In the 13 years since, he has amassed 422 appearances in the English game, most recently helping Sunderland achieve promotion back to the Championship after four long years in the third tier.

212 of his appearances were for Wolverhampton Wanderers, the club that brought Batth through their youth academy and into the senior game. The central defender has been at Molineux since he was just nine years of age, even helping the club to promotion to the top-flight back in 2018.

The former Sheffield Wednesday man then secured a move to recently relegated Stoke City in 2019 and would make a further 107 appearances for The Potters before securing a move to the Stadium of Light in January.

With such experience under his belt, he would be a great addition to an Indian defence that finished behind Qatar and Oman in last year’s World Cup qualifying second round.

Yan Dhanda

It seemed that Yan Dhanda had the world at his feet when he was coming through the ranks at Liverpool. The Reds signed him from West Bromwich Albion when he was just 14 years old and he would go on to make 42 appearances throughout two different age groups at Anfield.

Unfortunately, he never made the huge leap to the first team; however, he did manage to secure a free transfer to Swansea City following their relegation from the Premier League back in 2018. He made 50 appearances for the Swans, even reaching the Championship playoffs on two occasions, where his side would, unfortunately, lose out to Brentford on both occasions.

After a disappointing term last time out – a season in which he made just three appearances for the Welsh club – he has moved on to Scottish side Ross County, and he will be hoping to make an impression in Scotland next season.

Simranjit Thandi

Simranjit Thandi is less well-known than the previous pair, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t bolster the national team’s ranks. He too came through the ranks in England, firstly with Leicester City and then with Stoke City; unfortunately, he never made the grade and currently turns out for Cypriot side AEK Larnaca.

He made 26 appearances for the club last season as they missed out on the first Cypriot top-flight crown in history by just four points, finishing second to eventual champions Apollon Limassol.

Courtesy of that second-place finish, however, Thandi will get the opportunity to play Champions League football over the summer, as his club enters the second qualifying round. That experience will be invaluable for the 22-year-old’s development, and the youngster should be a shoo-in for the national team in future.

Also read | The Top 5 Sports Betting Apps in India for 2022

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