Five players to watch at Hockey World League

The Hockey World League Final begins in Bhubaneswar on December 1, with the top eight men's teams in the world -- seven qualifiers and hosts India -- fighting it out to clinch the third of these titles.

1. Rupinder Pal Singh (India): Defender, 175 caps

One of the best exponents of the drag-flick in international hockey, Rupinder Pal Singh has been a key performer for India since his international debut in 2010. He returns to the team after an injury lay-off that kept him out from the side after the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in April, and would be keen to make up for lost time in a strong Indian defence, that comprises fellow PC-specialists Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Amit Rohidas and Dipsan Tirkey.

2. Barry Middleton (England): Midfielder, 397 caps

England's third pool match, against Australia on December 4, will make versatile attacking midfielder Barry Middleton the first England player to have posted 400 international caps, 145 of those for Great Britain in international hockey. Middleton has been a consistent presence in a rapidly-improving England team and has the experience of four Olympics for GB behind him. He has also played club hockey in Netherlands, Germany as well as for the Ranchi franchise of the Hockey India League, making his inputs invaluable for young teammates looking to adapt to Indian conditions.

3. Mark Knowles (Australia): Midfielder, 305 caps

Mark Knowles will be leading defending champions Australia at the World League Final, and his familiarity with Indian conditions due to his stints with the Hockey India League's Punjab franchise will remain crucial. Knowles is one of only four men to have won both the FIH Young Player of the Year and the Player of the Year awards, and emulated fellow Queenslander Jamie Dwyer when he won the latter for 2014. Knowles can be a threat for Australia both from open play as well as set-pieces, and this will make him a vital cog in the Australian wheel in Bhubaneswar.

4. John-John Dohmen (Belgium): Midfielder, 339 caps

The reigning FIH Player of the Year got the award on the back of a consistent performance at the 2016 Olympics, where he took Belgium to the silver medal ahead of a number of fancied hockey nations. Dohmen is a classical box-to-box midfielder, whose work rate has always been highlighted since he made his senior debut at the age of 16. At 29, he is the third-oldest member of a young but experienced Belgian side, who are ranked third in the world and keen to add the World League title to prove that Rio was not just a flash in the pan.

5. Gonzalo Peillat (Argentina): Defender, 124

At just 25, Gonzalo Peillat is a bonafide superstar of world hockey, with his defensive abilities only improving even as he maintains his status as a top penalty-corner specialist for Argentina. Peillat was instrumental in Argentina winning the Rio gold, top-scorer with 11 goals, and also topped the scoring charts for Argentina at the World League Final in 2015. Nobody scored more than him as Argentina picked up their first World Cup medal, a bronze in 2014, in Netherlands and that year saw him crowned the FIH Young Player of the Year.