KOLKATA: Time running out fast for them to bounce back and remain in the reckoning, East Bengal would look to snap their hat-trick of defeats when they face Gokulam Kerala FC in a home I-League fixture here Saturday.
In pursuit of their maiden I-League title, the red-and-gold brigade had a dream start to their campaign with successive wins but suffered a string of losses later on and they have now slipped to eighth place in the points table.
With this being their last match before the I-League derby against Mohun Bagan, East Bengal coach Alejandro Menendez will be under pressure to get his combination right and gain some momentum before the marquee December 16 clash.
East Bengal's midfield looked in complete disarray and the Spaniard has used a total of eight players but he is yet to find the right combination even after five matches.
The East Bengal gaffer is expected to ring in a few changes with an eye on the match against Mohun Bagan.
The home side will be boosted by the joining of Spanish attacking midfielder Jaime Santos Colado who has become their sixth foreign recruit.
The 23-year-old was seen at the training but he looks to start from the bench.
Kamalpreet Singh, who has underperformed in all the five matches in a makeshift position as a central midfielder, is likely to be replaced by Prakash Sarkar who came on as a substitute against Minerva Punjab.
East Bengal will also look to get an alternative to Mahmoud Al Amna who has been struggling with injuries for the past two seasons.
Gokulam, on the other hand, have come back strongly by registering two wins and a draw in their last three matches to find themselves in top-five.
The Kerala outfit received a big setback on Wednesday when their star Grenada forward Antonio German terminated his contact.
A former Kerala Blasters player in the Indian Super League, the 26-year-old appeared in all the six matches for Gokulam this season and struck twice for them.
"I wasn't enjoying myself and I was not happy with certain things.
I will never speak bad about the club but as a footballer, you need to enjoy where you are and you need to be happy in order to perform so I decided to make the decision to leave," he said on his social media account.
In such a scenario, Gokulam's experienced coach Bino George will bank on their young Indian recruits like Rajesh S, Arjun Jayaraj, Gani Ahmed Nigam who have been impressive so far.