LONDON • Guus Hiddink dismissed concerns over Diego Costa's fitness by insisting the Spain striker will be available for Chelsea's crucial Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.
Costa missed Saturday's 1-1 Premier League home draw against Stoke as he rested to avoid aggravating a tendon injury. But interim manager Hiddink is confident the forward will return for the last-16, second-leg game against PSG.
With the French champions taking a 2-1 lead to Stamford Bridge, Hiddink cannot afford to be without the in-form Costa, who has scored 10 goals in his last 14 games in all competitions.
Indeed, Chelsea laboured without him in a match that prompted the Dutchman to dismiss their top-four hopes and set his sights on success in Europe and the FA Cup.
"I think the top four is difficult, almost impossible, especially when other teams are knocking on that door," said Hiddink. "I am very respectful of the likes of West Ham who got a good result (at Everton). On the other hand we know where we came from in December, one point off the relegation zone... If we can go into a very beautiful March and April, that would be nice in the Champions League and FA Cup."
Bertrand Traore, the exciting 20-year-old from Burkina Faso, started in attack in the absence of Costa. He justified his manager's faith with his second Premier League goal, a spectacular left-footed shot from 20 metres, six minutes before the break.
But Stoke pushed Chelsea all the way and were rewarded five minutes from the end when Mame Diouf headed into an empty net after Thibaut Courtois failed to claim Xherdan Shaqiri's cross.
Stoke manager Mark Hughes revealed that he was going to take Diouf off before his goal.
"I felt we deserved a point," he said. "I was a little bit fortunate because I was going to take Mame Diouf off just before he scored. That's the fortune you need."