Hiddink may go full-time at Chelsea if Russia fail

World Cup qualification flop could see Dutchman return to west London club

By Adrian Curtis
Friday 20 March 2009 01:00

Guus Hiddink could return to Chelsea in November if Russia fail to qualify for the 2010 World Cup finals. The Dutch coach, who has won six of his seven games since taking charge last month, agreed to replaced sacked Luiz Felipe Scolari until the summer after the Russian Football Union allowed him to combine both roles.

Several members of the Chelsea squad have since urged the Dutchman to extend his stay but so far the 62-year-old has remained steadfast in his desire to resume his full-time duties with Russia at the end of the English season. However, Hiddink admits there is a clause in his agreement with Russia that he could leave if he fails to lead the nation to the 2010 finals in South Africa. "I will focus on Russia after this project but people say, 'Think about it, stay'," said Hiddink. "I enjoy it with the Russians but I do have a clause that says we can stop in November if Russia don't qualify. Then, the Russian FA can choose another direction and I would be free to go."

Hiddink's Russia are currently second in World Cup qualifying Group Four having lost one of their three games. They lie four points behind leaders Germany with a game in hand and face the group's whipping boys Azerbaijan and Liechtenstein at the end of this month.

Meanwhile, Hiddink has been given a boost ahead of Saturday's Premier League game with Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Ivorian striker Didier Drogba returned to training after collecting a knock on his knee in the 1-0 win over Manchester City last Sunday. Drogba's form and availability have suffered during the last 12 months because of problems with his knee and he is relieved that the latest knock is nothing serious. "The last 12 months were really bad because I had different emotions," admitted Drogba. "I had hard times with the knee injury and then came back and got another injury.

"When you are injured for long periods it is difficult sometimes to come back to your level in a few weeks. It takes time but I just needed to play and that wasn't the case – but that is football. I think I am in good form at the moment. Back to my best? I don't think so but maybe not far. I really feel good and I really enjoy being on the pitch and playing. When you are out for a while and this is what you do best, it is difficult to be out. Now every moment I spend on the pitch, I try to enjoy."

Drogba's return from injury earlier in the season was further complicated by suspension and a personality clash with former boss Scolari. It culminated in a dreadful performance against Manchester United in January that prompted Scolari to axe the Ivory Coast international from the squad.

But Drogba is keen to point out that his poor form was down to a lack of match fitness and not a sign that he was fed up with life at Stamford Bridge.

He has rediscovered his goal touch under Hiddink but his own upturn in fortunes has been matched by the rejuvenated spirit within the dressing room. "Team spirit has always been good but when you lose it is difficult for people to get a smile on their face," said Drogba. "When you win it makes things easier and everybody is more relaxed and comfortable."

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