Courtois is back but will Jose back Costa?

Thibaut Courtois (above) has been sidelined since August with a knee injury. While replacement Asmir Begovic has been praised by Jose Mourinho, the manager is likely to field his No.1 in a bid to salvage their season.
Thibaut Courtois (above) has been sidelined since August with a knee injury. While replacement Asmir Begovic has been praised by Jose Mourinho, the manager is likely to field his No.1 in a bid to salvage their season.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

Goalie's return a boost but Costa's poor form may rule him out of starting XI

LONDON • Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Thibaut Courtois is in his squad to face Bournemouth in the Premier League today - although he stopped short of assuring his No. 1 of an immediate return to the starting XI.

The bigger question is whether Diego Costa will get the chance to silence the growing criticism of his poor form after the troubled striker dominated the build-up to the Stamford Bridge clash.

Mourinho yesterday played down a second controversy surrounding the striker in five days.

After his unhappy reaction to being dropped overshadowed Chelsea's 0-0 draw at Tottenham on Sunday, Costa was photographed leaving a London nightclub along with team-mates Kennedy and Ramires in the early hours of Thursday morning.

But Mourinho said he had given his approval for all the players to attend their Christmas party on Wednesday night, and that Costa trained very well nine hours later.

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"I think the paparazzi had a problem with their memory cards," the manager told a press conference.

"There were 25 players inside (the nightclub) and they only photographed three.

"The ones who came out before Diego were not on the memory cards. The paparazzi also had to go home early, clearly, because a lot of the others were there after Diego left.

"It was almost a free night for them, and we know that and chose a week without three matches.

"Having a night out is good for them. They told me that dinner was good and after dinner was even better."

Mourinho will hope the night out helps lift his players, and Costa in particular, as they attempt to move away from the lower reaches of the Premier League table.

The reigning champions desperately need a victory after a dismal run that has left them in 14th place.

They are just five points above Bournemouth, who occupy the third relegation place.

The Blues have recorded three successive clean sheets since the last international break, and their backline has been further boosted by the return of Courtois.

The Belgium international has been sidelined since August with a knee injury.

"Courtois is Courtois.

"To miss him for a couple of months, we knew we had a good back-up in (Asmir) Begovic," said Mourinho, who confirmed that injured captain John Terry, midfielder Ramires and striker Radamel Falcao remain out today.

The Portuguese shares the same agent as Valencia owner - Singapore billionaire Peter Lim - and had been linked to the permanent job at the Mestalla in recent days.

When asked about the Valencia rumour yesterday, Mourinho maintained that his future was at Stamford Bridge.

"I don't speak about Valencia.

"There has been no contact, especially because their owner knows I don't want to leave."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2015, with the headline 'COURTOIS IS BACK BUT WILL JOSE BACK COSTA?'. Print Edition | Subscribe