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 Hotspur, 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.”