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.

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

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower