ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Star striker Didier Drogba finally took the field at the Montreal Impact training camp on Wednesday.
The Ivorian whose arrival in mid-season boosted the Impact into the Major League Soccer playoffs in last season missed the first three weeks of camp while working with a trainer in Qatar.
Coach Mauro Biello was impressed with what he saw.
"He’s farther ahead than we thought he would be," said Biello.
Biello said Drogba may see some playing time later in a stretch of four games in 11 days the team will play at the Tampa Bay Rowdies Invitational pre-season tournament. He said the 37-year-old needs to train with the team and work on his timing.
The Impact feared losing Drogba to Chelsea in December when reports surfaced that he was considering a return to his former club, possibly as an assistant coach. In the end, Drogba opted to fulfil the final year of his contract with Montreal.
When asked what message he had for Impact fans, Drogba said "I think the best message will be the (television) images you will show today."
Drogba had more to say off the field as he took to Twitter to defend Paris St-Germain fullback Serge Aurier, a fellow Ivorian who was fined and suspended indefinitely by his club over a video that appeared this week on social media.
In the video, the 23-year-old Aurier made rude insults about PSG manager Laurent Blanc, star player Zlatan Ibrahimovic and others.
Drogba tweeted that Aurier deserves another chance.
"Yes he made a mistake, yes he said things he should not have said, but we have all made mistakes," Drogba wrote. "How can young players learn from their mistakes if they're not given proper support and advice?
"Should we not be educating younger players on how to behave, preparing them for a world where social media can make or break your career?"