Coach Rajevac and Ghanaian football followers are keeping a close watch on the fitness and form of Essien and some key other players of the Black Stars who will be to Ghana’s survival at the 2010 World Cup which is less than two months away.
While injured Rennes striker Asamoah Gyan received good news from club doctors that he could make a quicker-than-expected recovery from an injury he picked up last week during a French Ligue 1 encounter with Lorient, John Mensah’s fitness remains a source of worry.
Ghana’s defensive pillar has made limited appearances at English premiership side Sunderland, and last Saturday he was substituted at half-time in their 2-1 home win over Burnley.
However, Sunderland manager Steve Bruce allayed fears linking the substitution to a possible injury to Mensah, indicating it was a safety-first move to prevent the injury-prone defender from getting crocked up again.
Like Chelsea coach Ancelotti who wants to rush the midfield bulwark in a desperate bid to revive the title aspirations of the London side, the Ghana coach sees Essien as his biggest star of the team which faces Germany, Serbia and Australia in South Africa.
Skipper Stephen Appiah, on the other hand, has no injury worries now and expects to lead the team to South Africa, but the gifted midfielder remains match-rusty and yet to play competitive club football for more than two years. His snail-pace recovery has been agonising for the gifted midfielder who is yet to play his first Serie A game since joining Italian side, Bologna FC, last November.
Last Sunday, Appiah was on the substitutes bench for Bologna as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Udinese in a Serie A game, but the Ghanaian nonetheless remains hopeful of making some appearances before the Italian season draws to a close.
Germany-based defender Isaac Vorsah has also recuperated from an injury he picked in February during a German Bundesliga match with Hertha Berlin after which he spent six weeks on the sidelines. Last week he began full-scale training with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim but he is yet to make an appearance for his club.
Defender John Paintsil and Laryea Kingston, who both missed the Nations Cup in Angola through injuries, have returned to action for Fulham and Scottish side Hearts, respectively. Paintsil was an unused substitute when Fulham played against Wolverhampton Wanderers last Saturday in the English Premiership.
Nonetheless, Coach Rajevac is keeping his fingers crossed as he monitors the progress of his players but hoping none of his World Cup-bound stars end up on the recovery bed like his pet young striker Opoku Agyemang who has been ruled out of the World Cup after a serious injury which required surgery at the famous Aspetar Hospital in Qatar.
Next month the Serbian will be expected to name his provisional squad for the Stars’ pre-World Cup camping in France on May 24, three days ahead of an international friendly against an unnamed team.