Injury concerns over Yaya Toure and Didier Drogba are undermining Ivory Coast’s preparations for the World Cup, coach Sabri Lamouchi said on Tuesday.
Lamouchi also admitted he was gambling on Everton striker Lacina Traore, who has played just one minute of English Premier League soccer since February.
Toure’s fitness is an issue after the midfielder was taken off as Manchester City clinched the English Premier League title with a 2-0 victory over West Ham United on Sunday.
Lamouchi also said Toure needs a rest after a long season.
“He’ll have to rest and recuperate. He didn’t come off because he was tired, he was substituted because he had a small injury. It was due to fatigue,” Lamouchi said. “We’re hoping that it wasn’t too serious. He’ll need to get treatment. Yaya will need to recuperate from his long season, his busy season.”
“With a good World Cup, I think Yaya will be a serious contender for the Ballon d’Or,” Lamouchi added, citing the annual FIFA award for the world’s best player, which is usually awarded in December.
Toure has been crowned African Footballer of the Year for the past three years, but lost out to Luis Suarez for the Footballer of the Year prize in England.
“We need a determined Yaya, a Yaya that is physically at 100 percent, psychologically at 100 percent to first of all take us to the second round,” Lamouchi said. “But it’s clear that if Ivory Coast hopes to go far, it will depend upon a successful World Cup from Yaya Toure.”
Lamouchi said Drogba’s recovery from recent groin surgery, carried out in Qatar, was being closely followed.
“Not having him on the pitch is of course worrying for everyone,” Lamouchi said. “Everyone knows the winning, competitive, champion’s spirit that Didier could bring out of the players during the World Cup.”
Lamouchi also explained the decision to include Traore in a preliminary squad of 28 for the World Cup, which he announced on Tuesday, even though the forward has been sidelined by a hamstring problem.
“Lacina Traore is the big question mark. Everyone agrees he is an incredible talent, but this guy played very little this year,” Lamouchi said. “But we are going to need everyone. I had to come up with a list that would allow me a number of options in case some of them have to withdraw.”
Ivory Coast are due to prepare for the World Cup at a training base in the US.
At the finals they are in Group C with matches scheduled against Japan, Colombia and Greece.
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