Chelsea manager Avram Grant has called for the African Nations Cup to be played in the summer months in future as he faces the prospect of losing several players for the month of January.
Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba is committed to playing for his country in the tournament, which starts in January, although he is suffering from a knee injury and may require surgery.
Chelsea will decide in the next week whether an operation is required but already know Salomon Kalou, John Obi Mikel and Michael Essien will be away for up to a month when they represent their countries in the new year.
“Of course, I think everybody wants it but it doesn’t depend on me,” he told a news conference at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground.
“We need to think about this. When they started the African Nations Cup there were not so many players playing in Europe. Now the Africans have many players in the Premier League and in other leagues – and in my opinion it will be even more in the next few years.
“So we need to think about this because it’s not good for the players or the clubs. It would be better in the summer but I cannot change it, I can only say my opinion.”
Grant said Drogba and the club had known about the problem for some months but the striker insisted on playing.
“He pushes to play even now but we must take care of the health of the player. We will see what is good for him. At the moment we will keep an eye on the situation then we will know what will happen,” Grant said.
When asked if the player would require surgery, the manager said: “Maybe. We don’t know yet, we will know better in the next days.”