Mourinho clears Drogba to play in African Nations Cup

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The Independent Online

The Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has confirmed that he will play for the Ivory Coast in the African Nations Cup - with Jose Mourinho's full blessing.

It had been thought that the Chelsea manager was not keen on the 27-year-old striker joining up with his country in January, with the Premiership champions in search of more silverware at home and abroad. But Drogba will travel to Egypt for the tournament with the full approval of his manager.

"It's time to put an end to all of the rumours and criticisms against my coach and club, Chelsea," Drogba said. "I'll be playing in the African Cup - with my coach's approval."

The striker also revealed that he is still struggling to fully recover from the knee injury he sustained on international duty.

"Since the match against Romania, I've been having knee pains which didn't prevent me from playing against Italy but which got worse after that," Drogba said. "That's why I didn't play in the Champions' League match against Anderlecht.

"Considering the score, my coach was wise enough to rest me so my injury didn't get worse and to give young Carlton Cole a chance to play.

"Since then, I've been receiving treatment but Hernan Crespo's recent injury has brought me back into the team with only one training session in me."

Drogba is hoping to go out with a flourish before leaving the Premiership champions to link up with his national squad.

He added: "The month of December will be key for Chelsea because last year, it was the month when we won the matches which gave us the title.

"I hope I'll be back on form over the Christmas period and score and win some matches again before going to the African Cup."

Drogba's side face Wigan in the Premiership on Saturday and Wigan's Arjan de Zeeuw may feature after it was revealed that he faces only a short spell on the sidelines following a scan which revealed no serious damage to a knee injury sustained last weekend. De Zeeuw limped off after 35 minutes of Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Liverpool with the problem, ruling him out of yesterday's training session, and resulting in a visit to a specialist.

The 35-year-old jarred his knee on the Anfield turf, raising fears he could miss a significant part of the season. Wigan's manager Paul Jewell said: "The results of the scan have shown good news but it's too early at this stage to say whether he'll be fit for the weekend match at Chelsea. We'll keep an eye on him, that's for sure."

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