Ahead of season opener, Nishu Kumar welcomes Hero ISL’s decision to allow 5 substitutions

Image Credit: KeralaBlasters@Twitter

Nishu Kumar will be eager to own one of the fullback slots in Kerala Blasters FC’s starting XI having joined the Kochi-based club from Bengaluru FC ahead of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21. The Indian fullback, who is likely to feature in this season’s curtain-raiser between ATK Mohun Bagan and Kerala Blasters FC on Friday, opened up about the preparations ahead of the new campaign.

"It [this pre-season] is definitely different and difficult because we can't go out, we have to stay at the hotel. At the same time, it is for our safety and we have to follow this. We played friendlies but this year, we don't play a lot of [pre-season] games -- that is the negative part. It is difficult but we have to follow the instructions," Nishu told goal.com.

The 23-year-old went on to praise Kerala head coach Kibu Vicuna’s training methods and lauded the league’s decision to introduce five substitutions this season. "I think the players may take a few games to settle down. We have a good fitness trainer and the coach is very caring. He is not putting a lot of pressure on us. Having five substitutions will help this season because now the coach has more options, so that is a plus point. We are ready for the season," the India international said.

A lot is expected from Nishu following his move from Bengaluru FC to Kerala Blasters FC but he insisted that he’s not feeling any extra pressure because of that. "I don't feel that much pressure. I feel that I have to do my best in training whichever club I play for. I am young and have to improve. The pressure is more like motivation to perform. I hope I can give my best this season also. We have good support, so I have to give my best," he said.

A versatile fullback, Nishu is ready to play on either side of the defence since Kerala have plenty of fullback options like Lalruatthara and Jessel Carneiro, who provided five assists for the Blasters last season. "I can play both sides. The coach knows that and he has tried me in both positions. I am comfortable with whatever position he wants me in,” he said.

Talking about Jessel Carneiro, Nishu said, "Jessel is senior to me, I am learning from him. He is a very good guy and a good competitor. In training sessions, we are fighting for the spot in the first team. It is healthy competition and will be good for the team.”

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