Concerns that Spain's Diego Costa could miss Euro 2016 appear to have been exacerbated after outgoing interim manager Guus Hiddink confirmed that he will remain absent for Chelsea's season finale against champions Leicester City on Sunday (15 May). The controversial striker suffered the recurrence of a long-standing hamstring injury following last weekend's 3-2 defeat to Sunderland, and was subsequently ruled out of the last-gasp draw at Liverpool.
Costa has dealt with such problems frequently in the past and recent reports from AS suggest that this latest setback renders him a major doubt for the summer as La Roja seek to win a third consecutive European Championship title in France. The 27-year-old, who was born in Lagarto and made two friendly appearances for Brazil before switching his allegiance in 2013, has yet to impress in the international arena and boasts just one solitary goal from his 10 caps to date.
"He needs a good rest and with training he might be fit for the Euros but I'm not sure," Hiddink said at a press conference as relayed Chelsea's official website.
Better news comes with the likely return of Thibaut Courtois, who featured at the Stadium of Light after completing a two-match ban incurred following his second red card of the season against Manchester City. He then travelled with his teammates to Merseyside before being left out of the matchday squad due to a virus. Hiddink did not initially speculate on the fitness of Branislav Ivanovic, whose groin problems coupled with the respective absences of the suspended John Terry and Kurt Zouma led to Chelsea deploying John Obi Mikel as a makeshift centre-back at Liverpool.
The visit of Leicester, during which the Foxes will be treated to a traditional guard of honour, represents the final match of Hiddink's second interim spell in charge at Stamford Bridge. The experienced Dutchman has helped to stabilise the club in the aftermath of their swift rise and fall under Jose Mourinho, steering them away from relegation danger and towards the safety of mid-table. He is expected to remain around the club in an unofficial advisory capacity when Antonio Conte takes the reins after Euro 2016.
"I will be emotional on Sunday because in the two spells here the passion towards football was already there, but the affection for the club has grown," he said. "The recent memory of playing at Anfield was a pleasant one because the team played as I love them to. That's the way Chelsea can play and should play.
"Of course after the escape from near the relegation zone I would have loved to reach the FA Cup final and go one or two games further in the Champions League but we couldn't fulfill that. But I'm happy with the last half-year, I did it with a lot of joy. We must face facts; by Chelsea's standards it's been a season with exception. It's not enough for Chelsea. It's now relatively quiet at the club but we have to go on and be competitive next season."