Arnab Mondal, a vital cog in Atletico de Kolkata's defence, said it was a big blow for him to miss Atletico's month-long pre-season training in Spain ahead of the third season of the Indian Super League (ISL) on Friday.
Six of Atletico's 14 Indian players missed out on training in the Los Angeles de San Rafael ground in El Espinar as their respective clubs East Bengal and Mohun Bagan did not release them with the local league underway.
Mondal together with Bikash Jairu, Lalrindika Ralte, Robert Lalthlamuana, Abinash Ruidas of East Bengal and Prabir Das of Mohun Bagan missed the pre-season under new coach Jose Molina, a former Spanish World Cupper.
"We could not have done much about it. Missing the pre-season training was a big setback, it would have helped us in gelling and team building with the new players and coach" Mondal said.
The defender, who represented Atletico in the last two seasons, rued that they have to play back-to-back matches in three tournaments with little or no time for recovery.
"Our calendar is made such a way that we have to play back-to-back matches -- Calcutta Football League, Premier Division, ISL, I-League -- apart from national commitments. We can't do much about it but to live with it," Mondal said.
Having returned from the month-long training in Spain yesterday, the 25-member Atletico team headed straight to Bidhannagar Municipal Ground in Saltlake, and Mondal said they would have to quickly make up for the lost ground.
"Thankfully, we have got a big pool of 25 players so the option for rotation is there. We have a few days time and I will have to quickly adjust myself to the new set up."
Atletico de Kolkata begin their ISL campaign against Chennaiyin FC at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium on October 2.