Drogba diagnosed with malaria
Didier Drogba was last night diagnosed as suffering from malaria, Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti confirmed today. The Ivory Coast striker was thought to have been suffering from a virus in recent weeks but blood tests revealed it was the tropical disease.
Drogba was left out of the starting line-up for the 2-0 defeat at Liverpool but came on as a second-half substitute after complaining of a fever on the eve of the game.
"We found out last night when blood tests showed he had malaria," said Ancelotti. "I don't know where he got it from."
Despite suffering from the disease, Drogba will start against Fulham at Stamford Bridge tomorrow night.
"He had a problem," added Ancelotti. "He has this virus and, obviously, he lost power and training. He lost his condition. He's had treatment and now he's ok. He'll come back immediately in the best condition.
"He suffered, obviously, because he wasn't 100 per cent but now, after treatment, he'll be better. He had malaria. He had the tests in the last day, and they showed this kind of virus. Now he's good.
"I don't know where he got it from. I gave him a few days off and he went on holiday for a few days, and then he has malaria. But it's over now. He's ok."
A spokesman for the club added: "The course of medication he is on now will clear it up in three days. This type of malaria will not come back. We are not sure where and when he picked it up.
"It can lie dormant in the body for a long time. He is safe to play with malaria. When he first fell ill, we treated him symptomatically. He had a virus and it has come up and gone down, and then come up again.
"We ran tests on all the tropical diseases and viruses but because it was dormant, there was not enough parasitic activity in his blood to pick up malaria in the initial tests.
"You re-test and re-test and when the results came back last night the parasitic activity in his blood had reached a level where it showed up."
Although Drogba did not play for the Ivory Coast during the last international break, he went home to watch them. But Chelsea say they are unlikely to ever pin down when and where he became infected.
Essien returns, Anelka, Alex doubtful
Drogba will lead the Chelsea attack tomorrow night, although the Blues have fresh injury worries over striker
"We have to take a decision on Alex and Anelka," Ancelotti added. "Anelka has a little problem on his back and Alex has a little swelling on his knee. We'll take a decision tomorrow. The other players are in good condition.
Chelsea's 2-0 defeat at Liverpool has cut their lead at the top of the table to just two points, but Ancelotti is not pressing the panic button just yet.
"We didn't play well in the first half," conceded the Italian. "We did in the second. Now we have to look forward.
"We can improve our position in the next two games and we hope to move on from the defeat against Liverpool.
"We have to be able to play 90 minutes with the same intensity, with the same power and personality. That's our aim in the next games.
"We are still at the top of the table and we know this gap can improve or go down, but it's important to stay at the top of the table.
"Manchester United have a derby. We have one against Fulham and we have to pay attention but, in theory, we have a possibility to win.
"I'm not thinking about losing. I'm thinking about winning. It's important we do to move on from the defeat."