19-year-old Aiban Dohling, a member of the Tata Football Academy (TFA) is on trial at Bengaluru FC, who have begun their pre-season training this week.
Coach Ashley Westwood has already heralded the need to further strengthen his squad after failing to win back-to-back I-League crowns, only by a whisker.
“We’ve left ourselves maybe three or four slots to fill. We’re in a bit of a different situation compared to some other sides, we’re looking at players who can come in and affect an AFC Cup game,” the gaffer had said, extolling the need to bolster their squad.
They have already taken the first steps towards that, having signed Alwyn George who was seen last year with the now relegated Dempo SC
Besides that, Dohling and Erikson Lyngdoh are currently on trial with the Blues.
Dohling first broke into the scene in 2010 when he was part of the Shillong Lajong U-15 side that qualified for the final leg of Manchester United Premier Cup, a global youth club championship. Shillong eventually bowed out in the group stages after being drawn with heavyweights like Paris St. Germain and Newcastle United among others.
He was then a part of the highly successful TFA besides also turning out for Jharkhand in the Santosh Trophy in 2015.
Dohling first came in contact with Bengaluru FC when he was part of the victorious TFA team which met the Bengaluru U-19 side in the 2015 U-19 league in the Rest of India Zone. Incidentally, it was Dohling's goal which was one of the cornerstones of their 2-0 victory over Richard Hood's side.
A full back during his days at TFA, Dohling is equally adept at playing anywhere in defense and could be an adept utility player for the southern side.
Reinforcement in defense is a necessity for Westwood who is in dire need for backups to his regular centre-backs, namely John Johnson and Curtis Osano.
The players released so far includes Darren Caldeira, Shilton D' Silva and Malemngamba Meetei.
"Westwood however is in no hurry to select the players and with his association with the Indian Super League (ISL) as a 'pundit', he is ready to wait if need be, to guage the performances of players during the ISL," informed a source close to the development.
Bengaluru FC are expected to play a couple of friendlies as part of pre-season training plans before releasing their players for the ISL.