Mourinho on striker and squad; Diego Costa travels

Speaking on Friday afternoon ahead of our trip to Everton tomorrow, Jose Mourinho discussed striker fitness as well as the Champions League draw made yesterday.

The weekly media conference was back at our Cobham training base having been held at Stamford Bridge last Friday, but like last week it took place before the day’s training.

The manager began by saying he would have to wait until after training before he could deliver a verdict on the fitness of Diego Costa, who picked up a minor muscle injury earlier this week.

When the final session before our trip to Merseyside was finished later in the day, it was confirmed that Diego Costa would travel with the squad to the North-West.

‘In this moment I can’t say much,’ reported Mourinho before training started. ‘We are trying everything for him to play tomorrow. He didn’t train for the last two days, but today is the last day and we must make a decision to select him or not.

‘He has to try a light training session to see if the reaction is positive. If it is we take him to Everton to play or be on the bench; if the reaction is not positive today then obviously we don’t select him. Let's see.'

Mourinho confirmed everybody else in the squad is available for selection for tomorrow’s trip to Goodison Park.

With the transfer window closing on Monday evening it was no surprise that was a topic of discussion for the assembled journalists.

‘We have our squad and it’s a squad we like. In this moment we are ready for the market to close, and for us to start the first of September with this squad, minus one foreign player which is compulsory, unfortunately. We need to make a decision in relation to a foreign player. It’s such a difficult decision I believe it could be made one second before the end of the market.’

When talk turned to our Champions League draw, the notion was put to Mourinho that, on paper, our pairing with Schalke, Sporting Lisbon and Maribor was a favourable one.

‘Your question says everything: on paper. At the end of the day we play against a German team:  Germans are Germans, world champions, good league, good teams, strong guys. We played them twice last season and beat them twice, but nobody can say we beat them twice this season so they are difficult.

‘I always respect Portuguese teams a lot, and not because I’m Portuguese but because I know them well. If the league is not a very strong league, the three big teams are big teams, with potential, history, status, and experienced players without fear of the big moments. Sporting is a difficult opponent.

‘Maribor brings the danger of the new guys. They have nothing to lose, everything to win, they’ve made already big money for a Slovenian club by participating, and now they will fight for points. I could see the match against Celtic. Celtic Park is difficult for everybody. They went there and played with big personality. They will take points from the other teams.

‘It’s a group with balance. The thing I like in the group is that we don’t have long, long journeys. Every time we are in the Champions League we thn play Man City, Man United, Liverpool and Arsenal – it’s a difficult situation but one to enjoy.’

In the short term, a traditionally tricky test at Goodison Park awaits. Mourinho explained why the Toffees will continue to cause so many problems in the Premier League this season.

‘Everton are a very good team. They kept absolutely every player. They didn’t sell one of the good players they have, and so many teams for sure were interested in buying some of their players. They believe in that and that’s the most important thing.’