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26.12.2005 Football News

Drogba: Chelsea pal Essien not a bad guy

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Didier Drogba is urging fans to lay off Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien.

Blues midfielder Essien is already saddled with a bad-boy reputation for ruthless tackling less than six months after joining the Premiership.

Liverpool midfielder Didi Hamann is still struggling with a knee injury after Essien left his calling card during the Champions League clash on December 6.

But Drogba said: "Michael has been given a hard time but is not a naughty guy. He is trying to give his best for Chelsea.

"What happened is because he wants to win - not to hurt people. That's why he apologised to Hamann."

Essien, 23, will serve a two-game Champions League ban for his studs-up challenge on Hamann.

And team-mates fear he will become victim of a campaign to get him into trouble because of his reputation.

His hair-trigger temper will be tested even more today in the tense derby atmosphere against Fulham.

Drogba said: "I don't have to give him advice, he knows what he can and can't do here.

"My first season was difficult. It is not easy. Some people take two or four years - some stay for one year and go."

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