Pandiyan, who signed for two-time ISL champion Chennaiyin in the summer of 2018, suffered a hand injury last year while on duty for the AFC Cup. As a result, the 24-year-old missed the entirety of ISL 2019-20, the season in which CFC made it to the final under Owen Coyle.
Back in the Chennaiyin squad for the upcoming edition, Pandiyan is positive about coming good despite returning from a lengthy lay-off. “In the last few months, I took one step at a time and improved myself. I can’t wait to play competitive football again. I am confident that I will do well when called upon by the manager. I am eager to get going with my teammates,” Pandiyan told DT Next last month.
“Prior to this hand injury, I had never sat out for such a long time. I felt bad that I could not be a part of the team in ISL Season 6. But, these things happen in a footballer’s career. Now, I am back and ready to play in the upcoming season,” added the Thanjavur-born lad.
Pandiyan found game time hard to come by in his debut ISL season and was loaned out to I-League outfit Chennai City FC (CCFC) in the 2019 January transfer window. Once his loan stint was over, the youngster rejoined Chennaiyin for its first AFC Cup campaign. But unfortunately, he could play no part in it.
Talking about it, he said: “I had a hand injury after returning to CFC. Initially, I thought that I would be out only for a couple of months. But, the injury aggravated after an operation. So, I had to sit out for so long, which none of us expected.” During our interaction, Pandiyan also revealed that he underwent so much pain as he was unable to weave his magic on the pitch. “I suffered a lot of pain in the last one year. I had to overcome one big hurdle, which I will never forget. I didn’t even go to the ground to watch the training sessions of other players. I just could not digest the fact that I had to stay away from the pitch for long. So, I stuck with the individual sessions that I was asked to do. Prior to landing in Goa, I trained for about six months, doing different drills."
In ISL 2020-21, Pandiyan will play alongside two other Tamil Nadu players in Edwin Sydney Vanspaul and Dhanpal Ganesh. The trio is expected to fight for spots in the central midfield area.