Scolari expects to keep Drogba

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The Independent Football

Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari expects to return from the pre-season tour of Asia and Russia with a fully fit Didier Drogba ready to help the club win back the Barclays Premier League crown.

The frontman has been the focus of speculation over his future and stayed in London as the Blues set off for their pre-season tour, with Chelsea insisting he is recovering from a persistent knee injury.

Drogba's injury status was confirmed by Scolari today after arriving in southern China ahead of his first game in charge of Chelsea, against Chinese Super League outfit Guangzhou Pharmaceutical on Wednesday.

"Didier is injured and the doctor and our medical staff put together a recuperation plan for him and he will be out for three weeks, maximum four weeks," said the 59-year-old Brazilian.

"It was impossible for him to come with us to China."

Drogba's agent revealed last week that the 30-year-old will decide whether to sign a contract extension with Chelsea by Saturday.

But former Portugal manager Scolari is confident the Ivory Coast striker and midfielder Frank Lampard will be in the Chelsea squad who will look to prise the title away from Manchester United and also lead a successful Champions League challenge.

"Didier's future is at Chelsea because he has a contract with us," added Scolari.

"He has a contract with us and I think he is happy at Chelsea. He will follow a normal recuperation plan and I hope when we come back he will be in good condition."

While Drogba remains in London to recover at Chelsea's Cobham training base, Lampard made the trip to China with the rest of the squad, boosting hopes the 30-year-old will at least stay at Stamford Bridge until the end of his contract, which runs out next summer.

"He is training every day in the morning and afternoon very well. The most important thing is that he is here with us," said Scolari.

"I have spoken to him every day, we are talking every day about Chelsea, about what's the best way for Chelsea to play and when he is training with the other players what's the best position for him.

"I have spoken about how to win games with Chelsea and Lampard and no more."

Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon echoed Scolari's words and insisted everything was still being done to secure Lampard's future, with Inter Milan and former Blues boss Jose Mourinho looking to tempt the England midfielder to the San Siro.

"He is here and he is training exceptionally hard for us. He is a big pro and we are confident he will be with us next season," said Kenyon.

"We accept he is a key member of the team. No-one is stalling over this, Frank isn't stalling and we are not stalling.

"It is an important statement he is on tour with us and we have always said all along that we want Frank to stay and we are confident he will."

Blues captain John Terry is hopeful a deal with Lampard would be reached soon.

"I'm very good friends with Frank and we have spoken about it, but the situation is ongoing with the club and Frank," said the England defender.

"The players and the fans all want him to stay, but it's down to Frank and the club to sort it out. We are here to focus on the football, but hopefully while he's here the club and his representatives can sort it out."

Also today, defender Khalid Boulahrouz and midfielder Claude Makelele moved closer to the brink of moves to Stuttgart and PSG, while goalkeeper Petr Cech signed a new five-year deal to keep him at Stamford Bridge until 2013.

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