Drogba calls on Chelsea to shrug off injury fears

Striker insists title bid is on track despite key defender Carvalho joining the sick list

The usual analogy for the league championship is that it is a marathon, not a sprint. This year the Grand National may be a better comparison because as the leading trio approach the final hurdles there are casualties strewn across the course.

Arsenal and Manchester United have been beset by injuries and now it appears Chelsea's turn with Ricardo Carvalho the latest to pull up lame. The Portuguese defender will be out for at least four weeks after suffering ankle ligament damage in Wednesday's 5-0 victory at Portsmouth.

He joins fellow defenders Ashley Cole, Jose Bosingwa and Branislav Ivanovic on the injury list, plus Michael Essien. However, Didier Drogba believes he should be fit to play Aston Villa tomorrow despite limping away from the fray at Fratton Park.

"I hurt my knee when I was stepped on but while it's painful I think it's going to be all right," he said. Drogba added: "It's difficult when you are playing so many games for all the team to be on top of our shape and fitness. Now we have a lot of injuries, especially to our defensive line. We're going to miss Ricardo, Ivanovic, Ashley, Bosingwa, so many. But I think we are doing a great season even without our players."

Wednesday's win lifted the mood at the club following their Champions League exit and subsequent failure to hold on to a winning position at Blackburn Rovers at the weekend. Drogba accepted that the team had not been at its best but said he believed Chelsea were still very much in the title race, even though it was "difficult". He said: "We have had a lot of criticism from people, and that's fair because we haven't played at our level. Even at Blackburn we had only one good half. So it was important to win on Wednesday.

"I don't know why we have struggled. You have difficult moments in a season and ours has come at the wrong time. Now we have to rush and we have no time to think. We have to win games. We have to win them all if we want to win the title.

"We had a good advantage but we lost it and have to chase Manchester United. I have to believe that we will still win the title. When United were behind us they believed they could come back. When we won at Arsenal, Arsène Wenger said they were still in for the title and he was right. So we have to believe the same and you never know what will happen. It is frustrating that we have let them back into it but we have to get over that."

The clock is always ticking for a 32-year-old centre-forward but Drogba insisted that this season is not the last hurrah, either for him or Chelsea's other 30-somethings. The Ivorian said he himself was proof that footballers did not go immediately into decline when they entered their fourth decade and noted: "I had a difficult season last year, and I came back."

Chelsea may have experienced a blip but with 10 goals in the last eight league games, and five in the last three, their leading scorer has continued to worry Premier League defences.

"I'm really happy with my goals," he said. "I wanted to show that I'm still around because a lot of things have been said. People didn't appreciate that the knee problem I had meant I could only play at 50 per cent. Now, thank God, I am fit and I'm enjoying myself again.

"Considering that I'm not taking penalties, and have missed a few games, it's the best season I've had; but it would be a poor season if I finish top scorer and we don't win a trophy. Football is a team sport.

"This season has been so long and so difficult that I prefer to win the league. To do that, it's important we beat Aston Villa so we can go to Old Trafford [next Saturday] with a lot of confidence."

There was good news for Chelsea when the Football Association said Daniel Sturridge would not be punished for the clash which broke the nose of Portsmouth's Tommy Smith on Wednesday, and Florent Malouda would receive no further sanction for the collision which left Ricardo Rocha with a suspected fractured cheekbone. Both incidents were deemed to have been dealt with by referee Lee Mason at the time.

Hurt locker room: Injured Blues

Player / Position / Injury / Return Date

Hilario / Goalkeeper / Groin / Early April

B Ivanovic  / Right-back / Knee / Late April

J Bosingwa / Right-back / Knee / Out for season

A Cole / Left-back / Knee / Early May

R Carvalho / Centre-half / Ankle / Early May

M Essien  / Midfielder / Knee / Out for season

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Voices
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
News
people
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
News
people... and stop them from attacking people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?