Indian football team assistant coach Shanmugam Venkatesh feels this is the perfect time for ace defender Sandesh Jhingan to try his luck in football leagues outside the country.
Jhingan has been a mainstay in the national team since getting picked by Kerala Blasters as a 20-year-old for the 2014 edition of the Indian Super League (ISL).
Since then, the centre-back has been like a rock at the heart of Blasters' defence, helping them reach the final twice (2014 and 2016). The Chandigarh-born Jhingan, made 76 appearances for the club before deciding to part ways this time.
"We need players like Sandesh inside the field. I think Sandesh has to go out and play in some foreign league, not necessarily Europe," Venkatesh said during an interaction on Indian Football's Instagram handle.
"It is the right time for him. The reason why I am saying this is because everyone keeps asking 'how can we improve Indian football'. My answer to this question is that at least 8 or 9 Indian players should go and play outside of India.
"Even in Asia we have the J-League, the UAE league, among others. I think Sandesh is now ready to play outside India. He is a very committed player and wants to play every game," he added.
Last August, Jhingan picked up an ACL injury that kept him on the sidelines for the whole of the 2019-20 season, in which Blasters finished seventh. Jhingan, who has 36 caps for India, also missed much of India's FIFA qualifiers over that period.
"I am back now. I am looking forward to football like anything. I am ready even if the camp starts tomorrow," Jhingan had told IANS in an exclusive interview earlier this month.
"I still haven't realised my potential. I want to win trophies, I haven't won many and I need to win at the club level. For the nation, the World Cup is the ultimate dream and I will have a regret if I hang up my boots and not take India to a World Cup," he had said.