Confusion last night surrounded Didier Drogba's participation in the World Cup after the Ivory Coast striker suffered a fracture to his right forearm during a warm-up match against Japan in Switzerland.
The Chelsea player, who underwent surgery last night, told his team-mate Kolo Touré that he would miss the finals as a result of the break, sustained after 15 minutes of the game in Sion yesterday morning, but later a spokesman for the Ivory Coast's national federation said that he is "definitely not out". Just to complicate matters further Sven Goran Eriksson, the country's new manager, said: "We are not sure yet."
Drogba, who scored 37 goals in a stellar campaign for Chelsea, will have further tests today. His absence would be a telling blow for Eriksson's squad, who face a gruelling challenge to get past the group stages, having been drawn alongside Brazil and Portugal.
"How bad it is, I don't know," said Eriksson. "He had a lot of pain. Of course I am worried, he's our captain and one of the best players in the world."
Touré, who scored the second goal in a 2-0 win, was even more concerned. "For him, the World Cup is finished," claimed the Manchester City defender. "We can just see on his face that he was sad and when he is like that you can't ask more. It is difficult for us because he is such an important player."
But a few hours later a spokesman for the federation was claiming it was too early to say either way, and even suggested Drogba might yet take some part in the first game against Portugal. "He's not at all out of the World Cup," said the spokesman. "He can still play. Didier Drogba's state of health is the object of all the attention of the Elephants' medical staff and of distinguished specialists. The Ivory Coast Football Federation stress that Didier Drogba has not, for the moment, been ruled out of the 2010 World Cup."
Drogba picked up the injury after a high challenge by the Brazilian-born defender, Marcus Tulio Tanaka. "It wasn't bad or stupid," said Eriksson of the tackle. "He didn't want to hurt anyone. Football is a game of contact."
Having scored 45 goals in his 70 caps for the Ivory Coast, Drogba is the side's pivotal figure. Eriksson does not have to make a final decision on whether to replace the 32-year-old until 24 hours before the first game, on 15 June, according to Fifa's regulations.
There was better news for Brazil, who meet Ivory Coast on 20 June in Johannesburg, with Kaka declaring he would be fit to play in their opening game against North Korea a week on Tuesday after a domestic season with Real Madrid badly hampered by injury.
"I am getting better every day," said Kaka. "The injury does not bother me any more. I've been doing everything planned so far and by the time we play the opener I will be in great condition."
- More about:
- British Cycling Federation
- C And #244;te D'ivoire (ivory Coast)
- Didier Drogba
- Foreign & Commonwealth Office