India U-22 and East Bengal goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is set to become the next Indian player to try his luck in Europe, as the custodian is set to join English Premier League club Wigan Athletic for a trial cum training stint this week.
With the player being given an extended holiday by East Bengal due to his involvement with the U-22 side, his trip abroad is not expected to cut into his club commitments, as after leaving on 15th July, he is expected to return on 24th July, in time to join up for pre-season.
The chances of Gurpreet Singh moving to England on a permanent basis are bleak, as at present, thanks to India’s lowly FIFA rankings, alongwith the player himself not having played 75% of India’s recent international games, a work permit remains a distant dream.
The chances of the training stint being converted into a permanent deal is bleak, as Goal.com’s source informed, “John Burridge arranged for the trial, as he had a chance to meet Ali Al-Habsi while in Oman. In reality the trial is just a week long taster for Gurpreet, and he shall continue to be with East Bengal.”
The 6 feet 5 inches tall keeper has gotten this opportunity thanks to John Burridge, the former Newcastle United and Manchester City keeper, more famous in India thanks to his outspoken comments on Ten Action, for whom he works as a pundit.
Burridge, who had similarly discovered present Wigan Athletic keeper Ali Al-Habsi, and helped the Omani custodian with his move to England, first noticed Gurpreet when he was training with the national team in Dubai, and has maintained his interest ever since.
The East Bengal custodian had a mixed season last time around, often having to share duties with Sandip Nandy. Gurpreet has also represented India at every junior level, and has been a part of the national team squad as well.
The goalkeeper is following in the footsteps of Bhaichung Bhutia and Sunil Chhetri, both of whom have had trials in England. Bhutia trialled with several English clubs like Fulham,West Bromwich Albion, before signing with Bury FC.
Chhetri meanwhile had signed a contract with Queen Park Rangers, but the deal was scuppered due to the striker not getting a work permit, apart from a failed trial with Coventry City.