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Chelsea cancel press conference to limit Diego Costa damage

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Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho

Jose MOURINHO has pulled out of his weekly press conference today on the advice of the Chelsea hierarchy who do not want their manager to say anything that might compromise Diego Costa's attempt to contest a potential three-match ban for his stamp on Liverpool's Emre Can.

The Chelsea manager is understood not to have wavered from his first assessment that the contact on Tuesday night between Costa and Can - as well as the Martin Skrtel incident for which Costa was not charged - was "absolutely accidental" and would struggle to suppress his opinions of the Football Association when confronted with similar questions today at the Cobham training base.

The club are concerned that Mourinho would get himself and the player into further trouble when questioned by broadcast and newspaper journalists and advised him to cancel his regular weekly training ground briefing, a decision which the Chelsea manager was happy to go along with.

Costa's case will be heard by an independent regulatory commission today with a decision on his three-match ban for violent conduct due before the end of the day, so that he knows his fate in time for the Manchester City game tomorrow.

There is no danger of an extra game being added to the regulation ban under the rules on frivolous appeals, but the club is well aware that if the commission upholds the FA charge, the player will miss three games.

There is no scope for an appearance in person from Costa. Instead, the club submitted their reasons as to why they do not agree with the charge in written form by 6pm yesterday. As per FA protocol, the three-man commission, likely to be chaired by a legal professional, is undisclosed, so too the time and location of their meeting.

The implications for Mourinho are wide-ranging, with the likelihood that he will be without further first team members as well as Costa. Branislav Ivanovic is struggling for fitness with a foot injury sustained during the win over Liverpool on Tuesday, which Mourinho said left him with a boot full of blood. So too Cesc Fabregas, who came off early in the second-half in the same game.

The club are still trying to complete a deal for the Fiorentina midfielder Juan Cuadrado, who has a £26.8m buyout clause and whose signing will have to be funded by the sale of either Andre Schurrle or Mohamed Salah.

The German is frustrated at his lack of playing time and has interested Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg, although the £25m asking price from Chelsea is high. The deal for Cuadrado is ready to go through and just requires the exit of one of Chelsea's two fringe players to allow the club to go ahead. A transfer would suit then much better than a loan deal for Schurrle or Salah.

There was hope that Cuadrado could be signed in time to play against Manchester City tomorrow but that looks unlikely now. There will be no official welcome back for Frank Lampard who ended a 13-year association with Chelsea last summer, only to sign a one-year contract with City. Chelsea's all-time highest appearance maker, Ron Harris, spoke this week about the likely reaction of Lampard were to score against his former club as he did in the fixture at the Etihad Stadium in September.

Harris played 795 times for Chelsea, and is still a long way ahead of John Terry on 651 and third on the all-time list behind Peter Bonetti in second place.

Harris said: "There will be some for him and some against. They should support Chelsea. Frank's a terrific lad and served Chelsea ever so well. But if he was to score the winning goal for Manchester City, it might blow up."


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