Shanghai Shenhua coach Sergio Batista says Didier Drogba told him he was ready to go after an impressive debut where he provided the equalising assist in the 1-1 draw against Guangzhou R&F in China's Super League on Sunday.
The Argentine had said Drogba would likely only make a brief cameo appearance off the bench against R&F having only arrived in China last week and being short of full fitness.
However, the Ivorian came off the bench with his side trailing 1-0 at the break, before producing an encouraging display, including an incisive left-foot throughball which set up Cao Yunding for a 68th-minute leveller.
Drogba also tested R&F keeper Cheng Yuelei shortly after coming off the bench with a wicked 35-yard free-kick, while he headed over from Feng Renliang's cross moments later.
"I said before the match that Drogba could play 30 minutes according to his physique, but I was wrong. He showed his uniqueness in the team, although he has yet to do more to recover," Batista told reporters after the game.
"I had to talk with Didier in the dressing room (at half time) and he felt he could deal with the 45 minutes left. So we decided to let him play, you could say it is in time. He needs more time to get fit, but he is an important member of our team."
He added: "He felt very happy after the game, he felt he was fit and very comfortable to play alongside (Nicolas) Anelka and (Giovanni) Moreno."
Batista also hinted he may elect to use Drogba up front with Anelka in an attacking-midfield role in the future.
Shenhua, who are now 12th in the league, face Manchester United in a friendly on Wednesday in Shanghai, before a tantalising clash away to champions Guangzhou Evergrande next Saturday.
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