Thanabalan, 20, was one of the standout players from Malaysia's recent China tour, alongside Daniel Amier of Felda and Penang duo Syamer Kutty Baba and Jafri Firdaus Chew. The squad returned to Kuala Lumpur on Friday evening.
Since the age of 18, Thanabalan has been his family's sole breadwinner after his father S. Nadarajah was paralysed following a road accident four years ago. He hopes to do well at next month's AFC U23 qualifiers in Thailand to earn a place in the SEA Games squad on home soil.
"I believe a good performance will improve my profile and put me on track to ease my family's financial situation," Thanabalan told The Star.
The Negri Sembilan loanee is one of two players picked by Datuk Ong Kim Swee from Malaysia's third-tier Felcra FC for the China tour.