Drogba fit and firing after hernia surgery
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Tuesday 10 August 2010
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.
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits record low as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal