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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map