The Brazilian-born Spaniard returned from international duty nursing a groin problem and has also been hospitalised with a virus but still might feature on Sunday
Diego Costa is battling to be fit in time to help Chelsea to try to maintain their unbeaten start to the Premier League season against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Costa returned from international duty with Spain nursing a groin problem and has also been hospitalised with a virus this week, though boss Jose Mourinho suggested on Friday that his star striker has a “little chance” of featuring against United.
And Louis van Gaal, whose Red Devils lie sixth after a decidedly mixed start to the season, would not be surprised to see Costa’s name on the Chelsea team sheet on Sunday afternoon.
“I think that Jose shall play with him when he can because he wants to win,” the Dutchman told reporters.
“Of course he can play, maybe, because he has trained individually. I have heard and read on the websites. I also have my eyes always open.
“He’s scored nine [goals] out of seven [games] – that is remarkable so he’s in good shape, I think, but he was ill [on Thursday] so you never know.”
Chelsea hold a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League after claiming seven wins and a draw from their fine start to the season. United sit 10 points behind, having already tasted defeat against Swansea City and Leicester City, and Van Gaal acknowledges that his side face a stiff challenge on Sunday.
“Chelsea are one of the top teams, I think also Manchester City are at the moment,” he added.
“Jose has worked more than one year already with his team and last year they didn’t win any prizes so you have to build up and he has built up Chelsea. They are playing like a team and I want my team to do that as well but to play for 90 minutes.
“We did that against West Brom [on Monday in a 2-2 draw], played as a team, but we also made individual errors. That was our problem.”
United will again be without captain Wayne Rooney as he completes a three-game suspension, while Michael Carrick (ankle) remains short of match fitness, though talisman Angel Di Maria has been passed fit following a thigh injury scare.
Loic Remy has been ruled out for Chelsea after picking up a groin injury in a midweek Champions League rout of Maribor, leaving veteran Didier Drogba the likely man to lead the line from the start, though Andre Schurrle is also back in the squad.
Mourinho was content to play it safe when settling for a goalless draw at Old Trafford early last season but insists that he wants a win this time around.
“We are playing well, we are confident, we are top of the league and we are in a good position to qualify in the Champions League,” he declared to reporters. “The camp is happy and we are ready for the game.
“We go to every match to win but sometimes during a game a point is a positive point and a positive result. Last year, at a certain moment the game was very difficult to win and I think both teams accepted the point as a normal result.
“On Sunday we go to win. If you give me one point now – and we don’t have to play the game – I will not accept it. I want to fight for the three points.”