Jose Mourinho insisted he was not worried by the prospect of running short of forward options ahead of Sunday’s visit to Manchester United after confirming Loic Remy and Diego Costa will both miss Chelsea’s trip to Old Trafford.
Remy limped out of the Blues’ comprehensive 6-0 Champions League victory over Maribor after scoring the 14th minute opening goal and with Costa sidelined with a hamstring injury, Didier Drogba will start for the Premier League leaders against Louis van Gaal’s side despite Mourinho admitting the veteran is not fully match fit.
“Loic has a muscular injury. I don’t know the dimension and I’m not worried. When a player is injured, play another one,” said Chelsea manager Mourinho following Tuesday’s comprehensive win at Stamford Bridge.
Asked whether Costa would be available, he added: “No, I don’t expect him to be.”
Mourinho insisted he was not concerned at his dwindling attacking options despite admitting before the Maribor game Drogba was not yet ready to play a full 90 minutes.
Drogba was introduced in place of Remy against the Slovenians and capped his display with his side’s second goal from the penalty spot, the striker?s first for Chelsea since returning to Stamford Bridge during the last transfer window.
“I was not expecting him to play 75 minutes tonight (Tuesday),” Mourinho said. “I spoke with him yesterday and we spoke about 30 minutes. But the circumstances were he had to go on.
– Chelsea don’t cry –
“He was comfortable to play 75 minutes. It was very, very important for Didier. The best thing for a player to improve his condition is to play,” the Portuguese boss explained.
He added: “We are playing well, we are getting good results. We don’t cry about injuries. It’s our philosophy, we don’t cry. We just think one injury means an opportunity for somebody else.”
Drogba was given the opportunity to score his first Chelsea goal since converting the decisive penalty in the 2012 Champions League final shoot-out when Eden Hazard, Chelsea’s designated penalty taker, responded to the veteran’s request to take the spot-kick.
Mourinho said he was unhappy at the switch but accepted Drogba’s strike will provide the player with a major boost.
“Players like to score goals. Strikers like to score goals,” said Mourinho. “He was not for a long time on the pitch in previous matches.
“His last goal for Chelsea was the most important goal in the history of the club.”
He added: “I was surprised that Eden Hazard gave the ball to Didier Drogba for the penalty. I wasn’t particularly pleased, no. I have my choices and Hazard is number one. Because it was a goal, I was happy.
“I don’t like. They have the freedom to do it. They can do it, but he has to score.”
Drogba’s 22nd minute penalty put Chelsea two up and John Terry added a third goal before the break.
Chelsea maintained the momentum in the second half with a Mitja Viler own goal and two efforts from Hazard, the first a penalty, completing the victory.
Victory put Chelsea two points clear at the head of group G but Mourinho said it was too soon to talk of the Champions League trophy returning to Stamford Bridge.
“We are in the group phase,” he said. “We play three matches. To be in the final you have to play 12 and qualify for the final. Long way to go. I think it’s premature to speak about that.
Maribor coach Ante Simundza said: “A team like Chelsea has great individuals and that can make you look lost. But we were hit by three goals on the break.”