Chelsea's Mourinho backs 'recovered' Costa to play key role

AFP, Saturday 22 Nov 2014

Chelsea’s Diego Costa
Chelsea’s Diego Costa celebrates scoring his teams second goal during their English Premier League soccer match against Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge, London (Photo: AP)

Jose Mourinho believes Diego Costa has recovered from his long-standing injury problems and is now ready to play a full part in Chelsea's testing run of fixtures to the turn of the year.

Chelsea manager Mourinho has maintained the Spain striker has required careful handling after suffering injuries while away on international duty this season.

But after criticising the way Costa has been used by his country, Mourinho is convinced the player has benefitted from being left out of Spain squad for the recent round of international matches.

Despite a lingering hamstring complaint, Costa has struck ten goals in his first nine Premier League games since a £32 million ($53.1 million) move from Atletico Madrid.

And with Chelsea facing a gruelling run of 12 matches in 41 days between Saturday's clash with West Bromwich Albion and the January 1 visit to London rivals Tottenham, Mourinho is satisfied Costa is fully prepared for the demanding programme.

"He (Costa) had a little holiday, with a Chelsea physio, for two weeks so even then he was working many hours per day with our physio," Mourinho told a news conference at the club's Cobham training centre, south-west of London, on Friday.

"After that he came back, he keeps going in the right direction. We feel he's free of his old injury," the Portuguese manager added.

"But now we are going to have a period that is new for him," said Mourinho of the congested run of holiday period fixtures which, while a traditional feature of British football, has no equivalent elsewhere in Europe.

"I believe the Christmas period for players doing it for the first time in their careers is more difficult," Mourinho said.

"The English players, or those who have been here for many years, are more physically and mentally adapted and prepared to cope with the special incredible marathon of football we face.

"We spoke yesterday (Thursday) about it. But we go match after match. Diego has four yellow cards. Am I going to protect him? No way. He plays. When he's fit, he plays.”

- No complacency -

Chelsea, unbeaten in all competitions this season, face West Brom with Mourinho's men top of the Premier League and four points clear of surprise package Southampton.

However, Mourinho said: "There is no complacency, that's for sure. If we lose matches, and I believe we will, it won't be because of complacency. It will be because football is football.

"In our game against Maribor in the Champions League, we lost two points but it wasn't down to complacency. It was because of football.

"Their goalkeeper was the man-of-the-match and we missed so many chances, but my team played tremendously well in the second half.

"But we still lost two points. You lose points because it's football, because the opponents are better than you, but not because of complacency."

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech has been linked with a January move away from the club after losing his place to Thibaut Courtois.

Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal and AC Milan have all been linked with the Czech international but Mourinho denied there had been an approach for the player.

"I promise you, I tell you the truth. On my desk, normally information arrives from the board. But I have zero. Zero proposals.

"At this moment, Petr Cech is our goalkeeper and has a contract for two more years. He's a fantastic professional and puts the team's interests first.

"Not once has Petr Cech knocked on my door to inform me of his desire to accept some proposal. This is my truth -- nothing more I can say."

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