Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has said it was a gamble asking Diego Costa to come off the bench during the 2-1 victory over Stoke at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening.
The Portuguese predicts his leading goalscorer will be sidelined for at least two weeks after he limped off the pitch clutching his hamstring 11 minutes after being introduced in place of Oscar at half-time.
Costa suffered the initial injury away at Hull on 22 March and was subsequently unable to play for Spain against Ukraine and the Netherlands during the most recent international break.
Article continues below
Mourinho has said although both he and the Chelsea medical staff took a calculated risk naming Costa as a substitute ahead of the match with Stoke, every measure was taken to determine whether the Spaniard could feature against the Potters.
“The same way as a manager I sometimes have to risk things tactically, the medical department has to do the same if they want to be a top medical department like ours is," Mourinho told the official Chelsea website.
Article continues below
He added: "We have seven weeks and eight matches until the end of the season, so for sure for half of it he has to be with us."
But with crucial fixtures against Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United looming within the next month, was Mourinho wrong to take a chance on one of his best players?
He seems to have made a poor judgement by throwing Costa into the fray when, although the league leaders already have one hand on the Premier League trophy, the risk simply was not worth it.
The Blues would have been anticipating a physical contest against Stoke albeit one in which they should dominate possession – hardly the kind of game for a manager to be fielding key personnel who are carrying even a slight knock.
With the score 1-1 going into the break, it was a knee-jerk reaction from Mourinho to send Costa onto the pitch for the second half to provide extra firepower alongside Loic Remy.
The Frenchman, who went on to tuck home the second winner in as many matches, had looked sharp during the first period, linking up well with the ever-creative quartet of Eden Hazard, Oscar, Willian and Cesc Fabregas.
Although the Potters' resolute defensive cohort suggested it may well have been necessary to deploy another striker to occupy Ryan Shawcross and Philipp Wollscheid, Mourinho could have called upon Didier Drogba instead of Costa.
Drogba has proved this season he can still provide a reliable outlet playing as a target man and, that is exactly what he did once he eventually replaced the wounded first-choice striker just before the hour mark.
Irrespective of being given the green light by his medical team, Mourinho had other options he should have utilised.
Chelsea fans: should Mourinho have risked his star striker? Let us know below!
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/1a2aYpZ