Drogba fit and firing after hernia surgery

It is an alarming prospect for Premier League defenders; Didier Drogba was not fit as he plundered his way to the golden boot last season, scoring 29 times in 32 games – this season he will be.

The backlines of West Bromwich Albion, Chelsea's first opponents on Saturday evening, and Wigan, their second a week later, could prove to be the lucky ones as the Ivorian estimates it will take him a couple of games to recover his match fitness and then he will be playing without pain for the first time in six years.

Drogba, a formidable presence last season, recently underwent an operation to cure once and for all a hernia problem that has repeatedly troubled him ever since he first joined Chelsea in 2004. He played for half an hour of Sunday's Community Shield defeat by Manchester United to add to 45 minutes in a friendly against Hamburg and needs more game time – he will not feature in Ivory Coast's friendly with Italy at Upton Park tonight.

"It's difficult because it's only a week ago I had the surgery," said Drogba. "So I am far from being fit. It was a hernia. I first had it six years ago. For the last six years I have been struggling with it. I couldn't really work, it was difficult for me to play some games. I also had to miss training. Now I am happy because it has gone and I am more free. No more tensions in the abductors. It is really good for me. I am happy that I had [the operation]."

Playing pain-free for 30 minutes on Sunday proved something of a novel experience for the 32-year-old, certainly since he moved from France. "It was a strange feeling because sometimes last year I needed tablets to play," he said. "Now I am not even asking. I learnt how to play with [the injury]. I had to adapt my game to it, so now maybe I will have to change my game again. But I will feel more free in my movement."

Last season was comfortably his most rewarding for the club – his previous best return was 20 goals in 2006-07 – and the Chelsea manager, Carlo Ancelotti, will be looking for him to provide the finishing touch to the club's quest to secure back-to-back titles.

Defeat at Wembley completed a poor pre-season for the London club. Preparations have been hampered by the belated return to training of the 11 players who were, with varying degrees of embarrassment, at the World Cup finals in South Africa, and the return from long-term injury of Michael Essien. Add in Petr Cech's absence and it makes for a trying build-up.

It will take, according to Drogba, a couple of matches to get up to speed, but Chelsea have been favoured by the fixture list. West Brom and Wigan are followed by games against Stoke, West Ham and Blackpool. Their first obvious test comes with a trip to Manchester City at the end of next month. "We are not ready but we are working hard," he said. "We have a lot of players who have only been in training for a week, 10 days. We need two or three weeks to be fully fit."

Swansea have signed Chelsea winger Scott Sinclair on a three-year deal. The 21-year-old joins the club for £500,000, which could rise to over £1m.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
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

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried