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 By Kevin Palmer

Drogba hails Serge Aurier talent

After the Ivory Coast battled back against Japan in their World Cup opener, Sabri Lamouchi hailed striker Didier Drogba for his professionalism and work ethic.

Ivory Coast talisman Didier Drogba has backed his compatriot Serge Aurier to become a Premier League star, as speculation that a host of English clubs are eager to acquire his services continues to circulate.

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The Toulouse right-back has been linked Arsenal, who are seeking a replacement for Bacary Sagna after he signed for Manchester City last week.

Sources have told ESPN FC that Newcastle are also tracking Aurier's progress and Drogba has spoken in glowing terms about the 21-year-old who started his career at Lens.

"Serge brought us energy and balance and he had a fantastic game," Drogba told FIFA.com. "He's the best right-back in all of France. I think he'll do well at the next level too, in the Premier League."

Aurier turned in an impressive performance as Ivory Coast came from behind to beat Japan on Saturday, with his two assists vital in paving the way for a vital 2-1 victory.

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"I can't believe it," he said. "It's my first World Cup, we're here in Brazil and I helped the team to win. It's like a dream."

Although Drogba admitted he "was disappointed" to be left on the bench for Ivory Coast's opening game of Brazil 2014, the former Chelsea striker is convinced the new era for his national team will be bright.

"It's good to see we have a new generation coming through," added Drogba. "This is what we need and it's good for our football. It gives us energy. It gives us spirit. We're trying to bring all the young ones up the right way, to bring them along in the spirit of this team."

Ivory Coast will play their next Group C match against Colombia on Thursday.

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