Terry confident rested Drogba will prove a class apart

Drogba scored 16 goals in 41 appearances last term, many of which came from the bench during a campaign blighted by ankle and groin problems.

There had been suggestions he was set to fall down the pecking order following the return of Hernan Crespo from a season-long loan at Milan.

But the 27-year-old declared he feels rejuvenated following the summer break and is ready for the challenges ahead, a sentiment echoed by his captain.

"I remember speaking to Didier last year. He did not have much of a break at all and he did get tired a couple of times," said the England centre-half.

"But I think this season we are going to see a new Didier, and if he keeps playing like he did against Arsenal, he is going to be a great threat because he was different class," Terry said.

Attack is not the only position in which Mourinho now has plenty of healthy competition for places.

Full-back Asier del Horno and the England winger Shaun Wright-Phillips were this summer added to his already impressive squad for a combined fee of some £29m, with the chase for Lyon midfielder Michael Essien still on.

And the Chelsea boss accepts it is a necessary selection dilemma to have as he prepares for another sustained assault on both the Premiership and the Champions' League.

Mourinho reflected: "You feel bad for other people - [Glen] Johnson did an unbelievable pre-season and was not even on the bench [against Arsenal], Carlo [Cudicini] did not concede a single goal in pre-season, and yet he was on the bench.

"I think, though, the players understand and I cannot be stupid, just to rely on 11 people game after game."

Meanwhile, Chelsea remain locked in dialogue with Lyon despite claims that the deal to take Essien to Stamford Bridge has broken down.

Lyon's outspoken chairman, Jean-Michel Aulas, has said he will not enter into any further discussions with the Premiership champions over the possible transfer of the Ghana midfielder.

But it is understood that talks between the two clubs have not stopped and that Chelsea are confident a deal can be completed before the start of the new Premiership campaign this weekend.

Chelsea's latest bid, thought to be somewhere closer to the £31m demanded by the French champions, remains on the table despite the blustering from Aulas.

Aulas maintains he has always wanted to keep Essien at the club and says that a meeting scheduled for him and Chelsea's billionaire owner, Roman Abramovich, was cancelled.

But Chelsea are adamant Abramovich was never destined to enter into the battle to buy Essien with chief executive, Peter Kenyon, in control of proceedings.

Lyon's latest move in the long-running transfer saga has been to make noises about handing the player a new contract to keep him at the club.

But with Essien having already declared his desire to move to Stamford Bridge, it is difficult to see how - apart from the incentive of a massive pay hike - that Lyon can hope to succeed in persuading him to remain with them.

Aulas said: "We are going to make concrete the contract proposition made and accepted by his agent, which is very rewarding for the player because it comprises not only a major pay rise, but also an extension of his contract until 2009."

The FA Premier League's three-man panel will tomorrow sit to hear Mourinho's appeal against his £200,000 fine for his involvement in the Ashley Cole tapping-up scandal.

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