Belfast Telegraph

Mourinho asks Spain to handle Costa with care

By Matt McGeehan

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho insists he is powerless to stop Diego Costa joining up with Spain for the forthcoming internationals.

The striker is only just returning to fitness following a hamstring injury exacerbated during the last international window.

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 today 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 £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 on 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.

Given Drogba's form, Mourinho may retain 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."

Premier League: Chelsea v QPR, Stamford Bridge, Today, 3pm

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