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Chelsea leave it late to decide on Costa's fitness

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Britain Football Soccer - Chelsea v Everton - Premier League - Stamford Bridge - 16/17 - 5/11/16 Chelsea's Diego Costa Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge
Britain Football Soccer - Chelsea v Everton - Premier League - Stamford Bridge - 16/17 - 5/11/16 Chelsea's Diego Costa Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge

REUTERS - Chelsea will make a late decision on the fitness of top scorer Diego Costa following a groin injury that threatened to rule him out of Sunday's Premier League clash with Middlesbrough.

While manager Antonio Conte said Costa was now back in training after pulling out of international duty for Spain in midweek, he suggested there was ongoing concern over his striker.

"I have all the players available. They are in good form. Diego Costa had a bit of an injury, after the Everton game, but he started to train with us on Wednesday.

"His physical condition is good but there is also tomorrow to see the situation."

The game will be Chelsea's first since their 5-0 destruction of Everton briefly sent them top of the table, and drew rave reviews for the team and double scorer Eden Hazard.

The Belgian was named Premier League player of the month on Friday after recapturing his best form with seven goals and three assists this season, but Conte urged caution on his influential midfielder - and Chelsea's chances this season.

"We have to go step by step with the team. If we want to compare Eden with the top players, it's not the right moment," Conte said.

"He has the potential to do great things in his career but it's important now that he is putting his best into the team, and it's great for us."

Conte, who was himself named manager of the month, said he had had to quickly get to grips with the intensity of English football since arriving from Italy.

"This league is very tough and every game, anything can happen. There is a great difference and you must understand this very quickly," he added.

"There are a lot of great players of quality, speed and technical ability, it's important to understand this. You must play with high intensity to win."

Chelsea, who have won their past five league games, are second in the table after 11 games with 25 points, 14 ahead of 15th-placed Middlesbrough.

(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru, editing by Neil Robinson)


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