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Apr 20, 2009

Drogba happy with rejuvenation after tour no-show

Didier Drogba feels his decision to opt out of Chelsea's pre-season campaign to get his body back into shape has now been justified.

Drogba has been one of the main beneficiaries of Guus Hiddink's arrival as replacement for Luiz Felipe Scolari.

From seemingly being on the fast track out of Stamford Bridge, the Ivorian is once again one of the Blues' most influential players.

And, while Hiddink's influence cannot be underestimated, Drogba also revealed the move to stay at home rather than head to Asia and then on to Russia ahead of the current campaign has been a key factor.

''I feel stronger now,'' said Drogba. ''I am really happy that in July I took the right decision not to go to pre-season because I needed to rest. I needed to work on my knee to come back strong.

''That was the sacrifice I made at the beginning of the season and it's paying dividends now.''

Both Drogba and Nicolas Anelkahave been in Hiddink's starting line-up; but, under Scolari, it seemed only one would play, that man usually being Anelka.

Drogba does not look back on that period with a sense of fondness. But neither does he deny Anelka was worthy of his place in the team.

''Everybody is talking about the change of the manager but really it is quite simple,'' he said. ''I wasn't playing, so I couldn't score goals.

''But it wasn't only the selection of the team, I wasn't fit enough either. Nicolas Anelka was performing very well at that time. I just had to keep patient and work hard so I was ready when I got the chance.''

Drogba's capacity for scoring in big games should be a major asset over the next few weeks as Chelsea muscle their way towards the major trophies that seemed an unthinkable prospect three short months ago before Hiddink's dramatic arrival.

Wednesday brings a meeting with Everton, who Chelsea will meet in the FA Cup final on May 30 following their shock win over Manchester United, while Barcelona lie in wait next week as the Blues try to reach the Champions League final once more.

It promises to be a congested end to the campaign. Not that Drogba would have it any other way.

''When you go to the end of the season there are big games all the time and when you play at Chelsea you have to perform in them if you want to win trophies,'' he said. ''That is what you try to do. It doesn't work every time but at least we have the chance to try.''

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