Didier Drogba is a serious doubt for Chelsea's eagerly awaited encounter with Manchester United a week on Sunday, but the club will push his recovery "to the limit" following the head injury he suffered before the international break.
Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas said Drogba would miss tomorrow's visit to Sunderland and Tuesday's Champions League tie at home to Bayer Leverkusen as he has yet to be cleared to play after being knocked unconscious during the home victory over Norwich City.
The 33-year-old left the pitch on a stretcher with his neck in a brace and took around 30 minutes to regain consciousness after being accidentally struck by Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy in a challenge and then hitting the turf. He was taken to hospital, but discharged later that evening.
Nevertheless, Villas-Boas explained yesterday that Drogba had been in "tremendous pain" in the days after the incident on August 27.
"Didier Drogba still might be in between (being unfit and fit). He has to be authorised medically to make his full return to training. He has been doing light sessions, of course, with our physios. We'll push it to the limit to try for him to be available for Manchester United. He is probably out for Sunderland and Bayer Leverkusen.
Drogba's unavailability will focus attention on Fernando Torres, especially after he was left out of Spain's 6-0 midweek win over Liechtenstein.
Villas-Boas brushed that disappointment aside by saying the players "could even be the best and still the manager has to make the choices of what is best for his team".
However, he did concede that the 27 year-old has been struggling from a lack of confidence after scoring just once in 21 competitive games since arriving for £50m in January. (© Daily Telegraph, London)