Costa breaks nose but could play

LONDON • Diego Costa will become the latest Chelsea player to wear a protective mask should he be passed fit to play against Newcastle United today, after the forward broke his nose in training.

The forward was injured in a clash of heads with the 18-year-old Canadian youth team defender Fikayo Tomori.

Costa had his custom-made mask fitted on yesterday and interim manager Guus Hiddink is confident the Spain international will feature on the Stamford Bridge pitch today.

Costa will join Gary Cahill, Nemanja Matic and Cesar Azpilicueta in sporting facial protection this season, with players such as Cesc Fabregas and Demba Ba having worn masks in recent seasons. "We are a team with a lot of masks. A Zorro team," Hiddink said.

Chelsea will aim to continue their laborious climb up the Premier League table with a victory at home. Hiddink's side are unbeaten in nine league games, but six of those have been draws. They lie 13th and cannot move into the top 10 until next week at the earliest.

Brazilian playmaker Oscar believes Chelsea's efforts to rediscover their championship-winning form of last season are ongoing.

"We started off not doing well this season. Last year, we would play well and win, this year we are playing well and not winning. The results are everything," he told Sport magazine.

Newcastle's aim is to avoid relegation and Jamaal Lascelles feels the arrivals of Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend in last month's transfer window can help them address their woeful away record.

"All the January arrivals have given everyone a lift," said the 22-year-old defender. "We've lacked a bit of leadership and determination on the pitch recently."

Steve McClaren's side have lost 14 of their last 18 games on the road and start as big outsiders at Stamford Bridge, where they have won just once in 21 league visits.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

CHELSEA V NEWCASTLE

Singtel TV Ch102 & StarHub Ch227, tomorrow, 1.30am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2016, with the headline 'Costa breaks nose but could play'. Print Edition | Subscribe