Monday 19 March 2018

Hiddink's fears over lack of striker cover

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink during the press conference. Photo: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters
Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink during the press conference. Photo: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters

Matt McGeehan

Guus Hiddink admits Chelsea could be caught short if Diego Costa and Loic Remy are struck down by injury, but would not be drawn on the Blues strengthening their strike options.

Costa has shaken off a bruised knee to be fit to start tonight's Premier League clash with West Brom, while Remy could be in the squad following a calf problem. It is uncertain when Radamel Falcao will return from his thigh injury.

"We must not go into this danger if something happens with one or two strikers," Hiddink said.

But the Dutchman refused to comment on any transfer speculation, with Baggies striker Saido Berahino among those to be linked with a move to Stamford Bridge in recent weeks.

"The window opens and the mouth shuts so we don't have interest in this moment," Hiddink added. "We are thinking. When you think, you don't speak normally.

"If, suppose something is going on, it can be harmful when you go public."

When Costa, who has scored four goals in four games since Jose Mourinho left after a prior barren spell, and Remy are fit, Chelsea have what they need, Hiddink says.

A departure for Remy this month was ruled out, but Hiddink wants to see more from the Frenchman.

"He will stay until the end of the season," said Hiddink, who has seen little of Remy "because he repeatedly fell into injury".

He added: "I am curious. I hope Remy picks it up. I hope he will deliver if he is needed."

Costa's time at Chelsea has been punctuated by a persistent hamstring problem.

Hiddink discussed man-management and joked he was "cautious" about putting an arm around Costa, one of "two bulls" who had a training ground confrontation with Oscar last week.

Chelsea have slender options in the event of Costa and Remy joining Falcao in being unavailable.

Bertrand Traore, a 20-year-old Burkina Faso international, can play up front, but Patrick Bamford will stay with Chelsea's U-21s before being considered following the end of his loan at Crystal Palace.

"Prove yourself," Hiddink said of Bamford.

Falcao has not played since October and the injury means the Colombian is unlikely to leave this month. He was linked with a return to parent club Monaco last week.

"He is completely in the doctors' and physios' hands," Hiddink said.

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport