Senior players Sohail Abbas, Rehan Butt and Shakeel Abbasi were on Wednesday dropped from the 18-member Pakistan squad for next month's Azlan Shah hockey tournament in Ipoh, Malaysia.
However, the Pakistan Hockey Federation chief selector Hanif Khan said the senior players were not axed but given rest and the trio could return to the team after proving their fitness in the next training camp and trials.
"We have not dropped them we have rested them because they looked tired and jaded in this camp and not ready for an international competition," Hanif said.
The reasoning, however, did not go well with Butt and Abbasi who reacted strongly on their omission from the national team.
"This is an insult to us. The selectors should never have invited us to the camp if they were not interested in selecting us," Abbasi said.
He said the seniors had made themselves available for national duty on the insistence of PHF president after they had quit from international hockey following the World Cup debacle in India earlier this year.
"If they didn't want to select us they shouldn't have told us to not retire. It is disappointing to be treated like this," star forward Butt said.
Pakistan, which finished in the 12th and the last position in the World Cup, will be pitted against India, South Korea, world champions Australia, China, Egypt and hosts Malaysia in the tournament to be held in Ipoh from May 6 to 16.
Incidentally, ace drag-flicker Abbas, who was tipped to be named as the captain of the side, walked out of the hockey club of Pakistan even before the squad was announced as he was apparently told before hand that he was not being selected.
Three other senior players, including captain Zeeshan Ashraf and Waseem Ahmed had already pulled out of the tournament on pretext of rest.
Hanif said the selectors had picked the best possible side and there were five or six promising youngsters in the team.
"We need to move ahead. We are not discounting the senior players out but they are not giving the performances one expects from them of their calibre and experience," he said.
Imran Shah, Imran Butt (goalkeepers), Muhammad Imran (captain), Amir Shahzad, Kashif Ali (defenders), Muhammad Irfan, Fareed Ahmed, Muhammad Rashid, Zeeshan Ali, Muhammad Tauseeq (midfielders), Waqas Sharif (vice-captain), Shafqat Rasool, Abdul Haseem Khan, Muhammad Zubair, Muhammad Rizwan, Abdul Qayyum Dogar, Muhammad Kashif, Umar Bhutta (forwards).