Chennai: ISL defending champion Chennaiyin FC will miss the services of home-grown midfielder Dhanapal Ganesh as he is nursing a knee injury for a major part of the season.

His name was missing from the list of players unveiled by the franchise here Monday.

According to head coach John Gregory, Dhanapal, who played a key role in the team's title win last season, would not be available for the first half of the season.

The timeframe for his recovery is unclear and a clearer picture would be available in the coming days, the Englishman added.

Gregory told reporters here that the team was not under any pressure as defending champions and added that the players had soaked in the pressure in last year's final and played good football.

"There is absolutely no pressure. We have a relaxed atmosphere around the team 24x7. The players themselves are very focussed just like they were last season.

In the final, everything was against us but the players had the ability to soak the pressure and play good football.

Really looking forward to the season," he added.

Gregory said the team was looking forward to the new season and the aim was to become the first team to defend the ISL title.

"We are looking forward to the new season with an objective to create history by becoming the first team to retain the ISL title and put on a good show in our AFC Cup campaigh," he added.

He said it was good to have a lot of youngsters in the squad as they would learn by watching the experienced players go about their business.

"We choose the right time to put them in the team. Last season, we had a very fit squad and I literally had 25 people to choose from.

We very rarely had an injury problem. The young boys will learn a lot by just being in the company of some of the senior players. They will get to know about how the experienced guys go about their business every day.

Many of them will get at least a few minutes on the pitch at some stage and it will enhance their experience," the coach said.

The team had prepared for the new season by training in Malaysia for a month followed by a 10-day stint ion Goa, apart from playing friendlies.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Karanjit Singh, Sanjiban Ghosh, Nikhil Bernard.

Defenders: Mailson Alves (Brazil), Eli Sabia (Brazil), Inigo Calderon (Spain), Jerry Lalrinzuala, Tondonba Singh, Laldinliana Renthlei, Zohmingliana Ralte and Hendry Antonay.

Midfielders: Raphael Augusto (Brazil), Gregory Nelson (The Netherlands), Andrea Orlandi (Italy), Francisco Fernandes, Thoi Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Germanpreet Singh, Sinivasan Pandiyan, Isaac Vanmalsawma, Bedashwor Singh and Zonunmawia.

Forwards: Jeje Lalpekhlua, Mohammed Rafi and Carlos Antonio Salom (Palestine).