Jose Mourinho has revealed that Diego Costa's poor condition is behind his lack of goals in recent matches but has backed him to start scoring again.
Costa hit the ground running after agreeing a £150,000-a-week deal to sign from Atletico Madrid in the summer. Hie opening four Premier League games reap a return of seven goals, hinting that this season's golden boot race would be a mere formality.
But now the Spain international's purple patch has worn off and he has scored just twice in his last seven games. Incessant hamstring problems have been cited as a reason and Mourinho believes Costa's poor condition overall is hampering his prowess in front of goal.
"I don't think there is any problem but he has to recover" - Jose Mourinho
"For me, the problem is not the goals - they will come as a consequence of his condition,” Mourinho told reporters.
"He has to improve his condition. He was injured and had many doubts because he went a long time without training.
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"Obviously that must have an effect on a player in the way he runs, the way he moves and in his co-ordination.
"I don't think there is any problem but he has to recover."
Costa, 25, could soon find himself under pressure at Stamford Bridge with both Loic Remy and Didier Drogba filling in well when he has been unavailable. Drogba has already grabbed six goals in all competitions since returning to the club for a second spell in the summer.
With Chelsea preparing for what is essentially a dead game–they have already sealed top spot in their group–against Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League, Costa could be given the chance to rest or perhaps to find his form.
The downturn in Costa's form has, unsurprisingly, coincided with a similar decline of Chelsea in the Premier League. After an impressive start, Chelsea lost to Newcastle United on Saturday having drawn with Sunderland the week before.
That has given Manchester City the chance to close the gap to three points and opened the title race back up.