Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has come out fighting in his war of words with Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho over star striker Diego Costa, insisting that he has no choice but to maintain a stubborn streak when it comes to selecting the Brazilian-born forward.
Costa hasn't featured for Chelsea since leading the line in Spain's European Championship qualifiers against Slovakia and Luxembourg more than three weeks ago, much to the annoyance of Mourinho.
Chelsea's £32.5 million marksman is still battling a persistent hamstring injury and as a result Mourinho is no doubt set for another collision course with Del Bosque when international duty returns next month, but Spain's experienced tactician has admitted he'd sooner call Costa call up than face scrutiny for leaving him out.
Del Bosque hints Mourinho's to blame for injury woe
In an interview with the DPA news agency, brought to our attention by ESPN, the La Roja chief hinted that Mourinho must shoulder some of the blame for Costa's fitness problems, citing his far from exemplary condition when he reported for Spain duty at the start of October.
"We have not had luck with Diego," Del Bosque said. "He did not arrive at the best moment, nor did the injuries he had help him. But in some things we are very flexible and in others stubborn. And in this we are stubborn.
- Diego Costa could be fit to face QPR
- Jose Mourinho blasts Chelsea stars after Shrewsbury showing
- Mourinho's men rated: Chelsea 2-1 Shrewbury Town ratings
Pressure on to pick free-scoring Chelsea star
"I do not know if we are correct or mistaken. But in these moments if we had not brought Costa into the national team, for sure we would have been criticised for not having done so."
You can certainly forgive Del Bosque for insisting on using Costa after his quite remarkable start to life in the Premier League, unless you're Mourinho that is.
Costa was by his own admission nowhere near 100% at the start of the season but still managed a tremendous total of nine goals in his first seven league games for Chelsea, the ruthless marksman Mourinho has been crying out to spearhead his title challenge.
Club vs. country row shows no sign of letting up
He also broke his Spain duck in his last competitive appearance against Luxembourg but has since missed three matches for Chelsea, including most notably last weekend's 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Mourinho is most likely taking a precaution with one of his pivotal players with the long haul in mind, but on the evidence of his latest comments don't expect Del Bosque to do the same regardless of the quality of opponent Spain come up against.