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Five Aside

Didier Drogba fitness boost as Chelsea's big names return

Chelsea's fitness concerns surrounding Didier Drogba have subsided with the news that the striker only suffered cramp during Sunday's game against Tottenham Hotspur.

Drogba was forced off in the second half at Stamford Bridge when he pulled up following a shot and was stretchered off in evident pain.

With a tally of five goals in six Premier League games so far this season, the sight of Drogba being substituted was a worrying one for Chelsea fans despite the 3-0 win extending their 100% record to six games.

But examinations of Drogba's problematic calf have calmed fears regarding a nasty injury for the Ivory Coast international.

"Didier had a scan and there's no problem with his calf,'' said Chelsea's assistant boss Ray Wilkins. "It was just the most horrendous bout of cramp.

"We thought he couldn't release the muscle and it might be something more nasty but he'll be able to take part on Saturday. It is very good news for us.''

Meanwhile, Chelsea have also confirmed that Joe Cole and Yuri Zhirkov will both be handed their first starts of the season in Wednesday night's Carling Cup tie against QPR.

Cole has not played since suffering knee ligament damage in January while summer signing Zhirkov has so far been denied a debut due to a knee complaint.

"We haven't finalised the side yet but Joe Cole and Zhirkov will both start, which is good news,'' Wilkins said. "They'll be very important players for us as the season progresses.

"It's nice to see them come back in. When you can't use someone of Joe's ability, any side would miss him. He has that bit of fantasy that can open up defences, so we have missed him. But we've coped without him and now we'll have something different now he's come back.

"Zhirkov is a very fluid footballer. He's been out for quite a period but, if he demonstrates half of what he's shown in training, then we've got a very pleasant player on our books."


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