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By ESPN Staff
Sep 10, 2008

Scolari's fingers crossed on injuries

Luiz Felipe Scolari is keeping his fingers crossed no more Chelsea players will report back from international duty injured and unavailable for selection against Manchester City.

The Blues have been rocked by the news combative midfielder Michael Essien is set for up to six months on the sidelines after suffering a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament while away with Ghana.

The loss of Essien - who will require surgery and then an extensive period of rehabilitation - is a major blow to the plans of the Chelsea manager, with no immediate like-for-like replacement available and the transfer window now closed until January.

Nigerian John Obi Mikel is, though, expected to be fit following a leg problem in time to face City.

But with Germany's Michael Ballack remaining troubled by a foot injury, Scolari will be hoping for a clean bill of health when the likes of John Terry, Joe Cole, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Wayne Bridge return to Cobham.

"Many players are in national teams and the bad news that we received is that Essien has an injury,'' Scolari said. "If they play in the national teams then I am happy about this, but we know about Manchester City and what Chelsea can expect there, it is a big game.

"We have Thursday and Friday for training, and if they arrive in good condition, without injury, then it is okay for us.''

Chelsea could receive a welcome boost with the return of striker Didier Drogba at Eastlands on Saturday.

The Ivory Coast international has not yet featured this season because of a knee problem, but did have an outing for the reserves last week as he continues to build up match fitness.

"Mikel is in very good condition and Didier grows up every day and grows up every week,'' Scolari told Chelsea's official website. "He (Drogba) is not completely ready for the game against Manchester City, but in my idea he may be possible to play 45 minutes.

"He is starting, step-by-step, to arrive in the same situation (in fitness terms) as last season.''

Chelsea head into a tough run of fixtures when the club season resumes with the opening of the Champions League group at home to Bordeaux which will be followed by a Stamford Bridge date with champions Manchester United on September 21.

For Essien, though, there will be no more competitive action until the beginning of the new year at the earliest.

He said: "I am devastated, but these things happen in football. I am disappointed to miss the start of a very important season for Chelsea and also Ghana's World Cup hopes.''

Blue captain Terry, meanwhile, hopes his team-mate will make a swift recovery.

He said: "Michael has had a bad injury, and he was saying to me it's more like five months.

"It is very disappointing as Chelsea captain because he has been a fantastic player. Hopefully he will be back soon.'

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