Football

Mourinho sweats 
on Costa injury

"We are confident. We are first in the league and we take game after game. We have the title in our hands. We want to bring the trophy to Stamford Bridge." - Eden Hazard (above, scoring the penalty), believes Chelsea have the Premier League title in their grasp after beating Stoke. - PHOTO: AFP

11: Diego Costa (in blue, with Jose Mourinho) was introduced at half-time but lasted just 11 minutes. - PHOTO: REUTERS

Jose Mourinho expects to be without Diego Costa for up to a month of Chelsea's Premier League title run-in, including the crucial contests with Manchester United and Arsenal.

Costa was not considered fit enough to start the 2-1 win over Stoke, which sent the Blues seven points clear.

The striker was introduced at half-time but lasted just 11 minutes as his fragile hamstrings forced his withdrawal.

Mourinho would not be drawn on an exact prognosis, but suggested Costa will miss the April 18 clash with third-placed United, which is followed eight days later by a trip to second-placed Arsenal.

"It's too early," Mourinho said.

"He has to go home, he has to wait 48 hours. He has to do all the scans again.

"He will be out for sure a couple of weeks, but we have seven weeks until the end of the season.

"Seven weeks and eight matches. For sure, in half of it he has to be with us."

Chelsea responded from conceding a Charlie Adam goal from his own half and losing Costa to beat Stoke and move seven points clear in the title race.

Stoke midfielder Adam's long-range strike soared over Thibaut Courtois to cancel out Eden Hazard's penalty opener, before Loic Remy struck the winner after Costa had come and gone.

Mourinho insisted his half-time introduction was not a risk, as Costa was fit to be included.

"I don't say a gamble because we did every test, we did every scan," the Blues boss added.

"The player trained two days 100 per cent with the team, the medical department was convinced that he was ready.

"The player was convinced he was ready, not for 90 minutes, but he was ready to play and to help the team.

"Sometimes as a manager I have to risk things. Medical departments have to do the same, if they want to be top medical departments like our department is.

FANTASTIC

"The safe medical department cannot work with me. People with fear, afraid to risk, cannot work with me.

"My medical department is fantastic, they do fantastically well for us.

"Today, things didn't happen the best way, but I'm happy with that, because it's football."

On the title race, Mourinho insisted Chelsea's focus is on themselves.

"There is pressure because we need to win six matches and we know that," Mourinho said.

"We're not doing our countdown based on the points the second, the third, the fourth teams lose.

"Our countdown must be made of our victories."

Stoke are 10th after a third straight loss, which came after an "uncharacteristic" Asmir Begovic error, when the goalkeeper rolled the ball out poorly, leading to Remy's winner.

"On the day, he had a fantastic performance," Stoke manager Mark Hughes said.

"That was his one mistake, and Chelsea had the ability and talent to capitalise on it.

"When they get in a winning position, it's usually very difficult to stop them." - PA Sport.

"He can score every time when he’s on the pitch. This guy deserves to score a lot of goals."

- Eden Hazard, on Blues striker Loic Remy