Chennaiyin FC were dealt with a huge setback as defender Dhanachandra Singh has been ruled out of the third season of the Indian Super League (ISL) with an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament.
This injury is on the same knee Dhanachandra injured during pre-season when he was on the receiving end of a mistimed training-ground tackle from a teammate, but it is learnt that he had returned to practice in recent weeks. The timeframe for his return is unclear, with the Manipuri set to undergo surgery later in the week.
Out of action since the start of the campaign, Dhanachandra, a key cog in last season's title-winning side, was initially replaced by Nallapan Mohanraj. He was soon usurped by 18-year-old Jerry Lalrinzuala, who has since made the left-back spot his own with a series of solid performances.
It is another 18-year-old, Anirudh Thapa, who has been promoted from the youth ranks to the first team as a replacement for Dhanachandra Singh in the squad.
Thapa is rated really highly by head coach Marco Materazzi who had singled out the AIFF U-18 Elite Academy skipper for praise during the squad launch meet as well. An attacking midfielder who can also operate on both wings, the Dehradun-born featured extensively during the pre-season as well.