Costa available for Chelsea’s west London derby against QPR
Chelsea striker Diego Costa is available for Saturday’s match against QPR, but manager Jose Mourinho insists the Spain international will continue to be managed with care by the club.
Costa, who has scored nine goals in seven Premier League appearances, has missed the Blues’ matches with Crystal Palace, Maribor, Manchester United and Shrewsbury after playing almost every minute for Spain against Slovakia and Luxembourg in the October internationals.
Spain will next week name their squad for the Euro 2016 qualifying match with Belarus on November 15 and Germany, their successors as world champions, in a friendly three days later.
Asked whether Costa would be part of the Spain contingent, Mourinho said: "That’s not my call, that’s not my decision.
"I’m nobody to stand in the way. I cannot stop him from going."
Costa could play against QPR on Saturday at Stamford Bridge in what would be his first Chelsea appearance since the October 5 defeat of Arsenal
Mourinho, perhaps in a statement directed towards Spain boss Vicente del Bosque, is adamant the Â£32million signing from Atletico Madrid will be handled with care.
Mourinho added: "Again he needs to be under special care and we are going to do that. It’s the only thing we can do.
"I’m always supportive of players playing for their countries when the players are in condition to do it and when the players in the national team follow the same kind of procedures to recover from the problems they have."
Costa’s absence has been particularly galling for Mourinho as striker Loic Remy suffered a groin injury in the defeat of Maribor, who Chelsea play in Champions League Group G next Wednesday.
Costa’s participation in Slovenia is by no means certain.
"Let’s see step by step," Mourinho said. "With his situation it’s difficult to predict what can happen."
The saving grace has been the form of 36-year-old Didier Drogba, who has scored in three successive matches against Maribor, Manchester United and Shrewsbury.
Those goals were Drogba’s first since his return to Stamford Bridge following a two-year absence after eight years and 157 goals.
"For such a legend in this club, it’s a difficult decision to take," Mourinho added. "We took it together: owner, board, me, him, all of us together.
"To be important you don’t need at the age of 36 to play 90 minutes of 50 matches. To be important you need to be there when the team needs you to be there.
"He was fantastic for us in the last week when we were in real trouble, without Diego and without Remy.
"And doing something that nobody should do, which is to play two 90 minutes of football with 48 hours difference. He managed to do that in an absolutely fantastic way."
Given Drogba’s form, it may be Mourinho retains him in his starting XI, even with Costa available.
"Fantastic problem for me," Mourinho added. "The perfect problem is when Remy is back. That’s the perfect problem, to have all three."
Midfielder John Obi Mikel (foot) is also out of the QPR contest, but Ramires is back from a groin problem.
Branislav Ivanovic is available following his suspension for his dismissal at Old Trafford, but fellow full-back Cesar Azpilicueta is banned for the last of three games following his dismissal at Crystal Palace.
QPR have two wins this season – in August versus Sunderland and last Monday against Aston Villa – and manager Harry Redknapp has been under pressure.
Mourinho is supportive of Redknapp.
"I don’t think he’s under pressure," the Blues boss said. "I’m happy that his boss (QPR chairman Tony Fernandes) came out and in difficult moments, not in an easy moment, and told the football country that he trusts Harry and he’s the man for now, he’s the man for the future.
"Harry is perfectly calm and steady and he knows that his place doesn’t depend on results."
It is the first time Mourinho has met QPR as Chelsea boss, but he is not underestimating Redknapp’s men.
"In my years here they were always in the Championship," Mourinho said. "Everybody knows that London is a special place because of derbies. You play eight or 10 derbies (in a season).
"The London teams have more difficulties than others, because a derby is always a derby. What they did before is not important for me. What they can do tomorrow is more important for me. I think I know what I can expect from them. It will be a difficult game for us."