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Drogba In Battle For Fitness

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06 Apr 2009 17:09:00

Drogba In Battle For Fitness

Didier Drogba is still struggling to be fit for the first leg of Chelsea's Champions League quarter-final tie with Liverpool on Wednesday. Interim coach Guus Hiddink will delay a decision on the Ivorian striker for as long as possible. Drogba was absent from their 2-0 victory at Newcastle on Saturday and the squad will train at Cobham on Tuesday morning before flying up to Merseyside. The 31-year-old is making slow progress after jarring his ankle in training and Hiddink wants to give him all the time he can to recover. "Drogba is with our medical staff," said Hiddink. "He suffered a reaction to an ankle injury he picked up in training. "At the moment we'll just have to see if he can train and take it from there but we know we have some big, tough games coming up." Hiddink insists Drogba is mentally ready following the Ivory Coast stadium disaster. The collapse of a stadium wall caused the deaths of 19 fans before the recent World Cup qualifier against Malawi in Abidjan, a game which also featured his Chelsea team-mate Salomon Kalou. "We've talked about the tragedy in Abidjan with the whole squad," added Hiddink. "Winning and losing are very important but this showed there are other things in life to put them into some kind of perspective. "You can't forget about something like that when it's happened and of course we won't, but life goes on and the best thing is to get back to work, which is what Kalou did against Newcastle." Chelsea's victory over Newcastle's kept their title hopes alive and Hiddink is hoping the Blues do not live to regret the defeat by Tottenham prior to the international break. "We will try to keep winning and we have some home games coming up in the league so hopefully we can keep the pressure on the teams around us," said Hiddink. "I just hope we're not left to regret the points we dropped against Tottenham." England midfielder Frank Lampard, who scored the opening goal in the win over United, said: "We had no option but to bounce back from the Spurs defeat if we were to have any hope of staying in the title race and that's why it was so important to get three points. "The Spurs result was a setback but good teams bounce back from those and that's what we've done. We don't think the title race is over yet by a long margin and the other teams at the top won't think that either. "It's still there and still available to play for. All we can do is win our games and let the rest take care of itself." Chelsea overcame the reception for United's temporary coach Alan Shearer to ease to victory over the relegation-haunted Geordies. The Blues kept United's fan quiet during the game and then won the game with two clinical finishes from Lampard and Florent Malouda. "We didn't give them (the fans) the chance to get too excited until late in the game when they had one or two half chances," added Lampard. "It goes without saying that the opening strike is crucial in any match but never more so than in an away fixture. "With the atmosphere there, Newcastle would have been desperate for the first goal to get their noses in front, but in the first half we were comfortable without being at our best. "In the second half we opened up a bit, the game opened up, we started to play more football and create more chances and I think we deserved it when the goal came. "When it opened up I tried to get forward, create a few things and I was quite fortunate for the goal that it dropped and I was in the area. "I just tried to make a few more things happen. We had 45 minutes when we didn't really push and we did the same against Tottenham but in the second half this time we did everything right. "The team performance was very strong and Malouda popped up with the second. From then on the game was very comfortable for us."


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