Hariss Harun is rested and ready
Lions coach Sundram believes Hariss is benefiting from a playing break
No thanks to a botched European transfer, it has been four months since Hariss Harun last played a competitive match.
That came in Singapore's 2-1 Suzuki Cup defeat by Indonesia on Nov 25.
But the 26-year-old will very likely lead the Lions out to battle against Afghanistan in an international friendly at the Al-Wakrah Sports Complex in Doha, Qatar, tonight.
National coach V Sundramoorthy told The New Paper that Hariss has benefited from the break.
Said Sundram: "I told him the break is actually good for him. He looks fit and sharp in training, and we will use this friendly to get him ready for Bahrain."
Hariss, who has 71 caps and four international goals, had returned to Singapore earlier this month after spending two weeks with Spanish third-tier side CE L'Hospitalet.
The midfielder is signed to Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) but, with one year left on his contract, the Malaysian champions decided to loan him out.
But before Hariss could become the first Singaporean to ply his trade in Spain, he was recalled due to the Spanish side's tax liability and work permit issues, and is now with Home United instead.
Hariss said: "Physically I feel fine, but my match fitness may not be what it could have been.
"I just can't wait to get back to action and this friendly will definitely help me.
"As a footballer, I always look forward to playing in international games and we will all give of our best to get good results for the national team."
With a twinkle in his eye and a sly smile, Sundram also told TNP to look out for surprises in his line-up.
TNP understands that this may mean that behind Hariss as a holding midfielder, the Lions could start with a new centre-back pairing, featuring 25-year-old Safuwan Baharudin and 19-year-old Irfan Fandi.
Incidentally, both defenders play for police teams on either side of the Causeway, with Safuwan starring for Malaysian Premier League side PDRM FA and Irfan featuring for S.League powerhouses Home United.
This will not be the first time Sundram has tinkered with his defence.
Ahead of the Suzuki Cup in the Philippines last year, the 51-year-old dropped 129-cap Baihakki Khaizan and fielded Daniel Bennett, 39, and Madhu Mohana, 26, instead.
While the Lions were bundled out at the group stage, the defensive duo largely won plaudits for their partnership in the 0-0 draw against the hosts and 1-0 defeat by eventual champions Thailand.
Bennett and Madhu have since joined Tampines Rovers and will admit they have yet to hit their peak in the Stags' first seven games, in which they have kept just one clean sheet and conceded 15 goals.
Although Sundram declined to go into specifics, he did share his views on Safuwan and Irfan.
"We all know Safuwan's ability to make an impact in attack and defence," said Sundram.
"All I can say now is he could have a new role to play for us.
"Irfan has got the technique and physical attributes to be a good stopper. Like Safuwan, he is good in the air.
"He will have a part to play against Afghanistan and we will see what he brings to the team."
Tonight's friendly will be Singapore's last match before opening their third-round Asian Cup qualifiers by taking on Group E top seeds Bahrain next Tuesday.
David Lee and Benjamin Seetor's trip is sponsored by Qatar Airways Singapore. Qatar Airways has a modern fleet of 195 aircraft flying to more than 150 business and leisure destinations including Doha and Bahrain. The world's fastest-growing airline will add a number of exciting new destinations, including Dublin, Nice and Skopje, to its network this year.