Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has continued his war of words with Spain coach Vincente del Bosque over the fitness fears of star striker Diego Costa, sarcastically claiming that his persistent hamstring injury won't be a problem when it comes to international selection next month.
Mourinho was forced to leave Costa out of his Blues squad for Saturday's 2-1 win over Crystal Palace as a precaution after he returned from La Roja duty nowhere near full fitness, a blow he clearly blames on Del Bosque's treatment of the forward in midweek.
The Blues went with Loic Remy in Costa's absence at Selhurst Park and were still able to collect three precious Premier League points, but that didn't mean Mourinho was still fuming that he'd been unable to pick the Brazilian-born forward for a tricky London derby.
In his post-match press conference Mourinho was chipper until asked about Costa, confirming that he won't be ready for Tuesday's Champions League clash with Maribor and is facing a race against time to be fit for next weekend's showdown with Manchester United.
No end in sight in big club vs. country row
Mourinho told The Express: “Costa can’t play on Tuesday and I have no idea (when he can play).
“The only thing I can say is that, after Arsenal, he went to the national team. He played two big matches against Slovakia and Luxembourg, and he came back in conditions where he’s not available to play for his club.”
The Portuguese tactician also insisted there's no point in attempting to engage in dialogue over Costa with Del Bosque, before closing his thought on the subject with a classic tongue-in cheek remark with bitter overtones.
“Costa will be fit for his national team when they play in mid November. We will get him fit for that."
Can Remy & Drogba fill the void
You can hardly blame Mourinho for being disappointed Costa continues to struggle for full fitness, although given that he's already bagged nine goals in seven Premier League games that's a frightening thought for Chelsea's title rivals.
The imposing forward is being give time out to recover and that's put the spotlight on Remy and Didier Drogba, can the fill the void and keep Chelsea's trophy push alive this season if Costa's forced to spend a significant period on the sidelines?
Remy showed fleeting signs of progress in his first Premier League start yesterday, while despite carrying a knock Drogba came on against Palace to help Chelsea maintain their narrow advantage.
Both need to find their scoring boots quickly though, particularly if Chelsea can't get Costa back for their most testing assignment of the season to date, a showdown with United at Old Trafford next Sunday.