Jose Mourinho is ready to recall Diego Costa to Chelsea's starting line-up for Saturday's Premier League clash against Newcastle United after the £32 million striker served his one-match suspension during the comfortable 3-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in midweek.
The Portuguese tactician intimated in the aftermath of Wednesday's game at Stamford Bridge that the Blues did not miss the presence of the £150,000-a-week star in attack following impressive goalscoring contributions from Loic Remy and Didier Drogba.
However, the former Atletico Madrid man's support cast are still likely to step aside as Mourinho prepares to name his strongest XI for the Tyneside encounter, in the hope of securing maximum points to maintain Chelsea's six-point advantage over Manchester City at the top of the table.
Gary Cahill is also expected to be declared fit, despite coming off against Spurs at half-time with a bout of concussion following a clash of heads midway through the first period at Stamford Bridge. His replacement, Kurt Zouma, will likely drop back to the bench.
One player that the Blues travel north without is influential midfielder Nemanja Matic, who himself serves a one match ban after reaching five yellow cards. John Obi Mikel should deputise for the Serbia international.
Mourinho has actually never won a Premier League game at St James' Park, but will be expecting to maintain his unbeaten start to the 2014/15 campaign with at least a point against Alan Pardew's side that are now two games without a win following that impressive run of five consecutive league victories over October and November.
A narrow 1-0 defeat against West Ham at Upton Park last weekend was followed up by a 1-1 draw with Burnley at Turf Moor on Tuesday, and the Magpies will now be attempting to follow that up with another positive result against the runaway leaders.
Pardew still has doubts over the availability of defensive trio Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson and Daryl Janmaat, while Sammy Ameobi also faces a late fitness test. However, Newcastle will be boosted by the return from suspension of Moussa Sissoko and Jack Colback which strengthen the hosts' options further up the pitch.
Newcastle staring XI: Elliot; Janmaat, Dummett, Taylor, Haidara; Tiote, Sissoko, Colback, Gouffran, Perez, Cisse.
Chelsea starting XI: Courtois; Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta; Mikel, Fabregas, Oscar, Hazard, Willian; Costa.
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