BY RAJES PAUL KUALA LUMPUR: Left with no choice, former Malaysian Open champion and injury-prone James Chua has withdrawn from the national badminton team yesterday. National singles chief coach Misbun Sidek said yesterday that the 22-year-old, hailed as the “king of the local circuit”, cited his prolonged foot injury as the reason for opting out of the team. “James has withdrawn. He will be officially handing his resignation letter. His injury has not healed,” said Misbun. “He wants to get well and play but the management and I cannot have a passenger in the team. He got the cue,” said Misbun. “I want players who are fit and I do not want to be called a coach who is not daring enough to make a decision. James' decision has made it easier on me. The door however, is not closed on him. He can fight to regain his place but he must first prove his worth.” The stocky Sarawakian, who joined the BA of Malaysia (BAM) Academy in Taman Maluri in 1992, has suffered hamstring, knee and ankle injuries over the last two years. But a foot injury has been dogging him this year and he has not competed in any international tournament since the Asian Badminton Championships (ABC) in Bangkok in November last year. In his long tenure as a junior and senior player with the BAM, James has never won an international title outside of Malaysia. He enjoyed a good year in 2001 when he remained unbeaten in the local scene. Misbun said James' forced resignation was a loss to the team. “It will be difficult to find a replacement because James is a fighter. He has the potential and I hope he will recover,” the coach said. The former Nusa Mahsuri head coach said he would not be hasty in finding a replacement for James. “I prefer to have quality players under my care. I will be on the lookout for players who have the potential and who can show me they are willing to shoulder hard work. But if I cannot find such players, it is best that I concentrate on those I have under my charge at the moment,” he added. The players currently under Misbun’s tutelage are Wong Choong Hann, Lee Tsuen Seng, Lee Chong Wei, Kuan Beng Hong, Yeoh Kay Bin, K. Yogendran, Tan Zhao Rong and Mohd Hazwan Jamaluddin. The Hafiz brothers - Hafiz and Roslin - of the professional outfit Nusa– are also training at the Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara under Misbun’s guidance.