Antonio Conte has revealed that Chelsea striker Diego Costa is back available to face Hull City on Sunday (22 January) following his controversial absence in the 3-0 victory over Leicester City. Yet, the Italian boss said that he now faces a selection dilemma to make his starting-line up after Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro coped well without the Spaniard at the King Power Stadium.
Costa was left out of the squad for the visit to Claudio Ranieri's side after reports revealed that Premier League joint-top scorer had a row with the Chelsea boss during a training session – and amid the interested of Tianjin Quanjian to lure him to the Chinese Super League side.
However, Conte justified his absence due to a back injury but the striker returned to training on Tuesday and the boss said that he is ready to face Hull.
"Yes, he (Costa) is available for the game against Hull," Conte said in the press conference ahead of the visit of the Tigers. "He started training on Tuesday with the team and he trained very well. He doesn't have the pain in his back so for this reason he's available for the game.
"On Sunday and Monday Diego was training so he could work with the team on Tuesday. He trained with a fitness coach, not alone. It's important to know this. He started training very well to come back on Tuesday. He did that to prepare his body to have a good session on Tuesday. Diego is an important player for us, we all know this. When he stays in good form he's always great."
Tianjin Quanjian owner Shu Yuhui confirmed earlier this week that they were interested in signing Costa from Chelsea but their indentions were scuppered by the new rules in the Chinese Super League.
Conte, meanwhile, assured that the Spain international is happy at Stamford Bridge and wants to stay.
"The player wants to stay at Chelsea, he's very happy to play with us. This idea (leaving) is far in his mind, he's happy to stay here and that's the most important thing for us. I don't see any problem with him," the boss said. "It's important we face the next four months in a very strong way, focus on the present and not look too far ahead. Diego is a good player, a good person and now he's only focused on Chelsea, playing with us and continuing to help us. He only missed one game, I'm sure about his commitment and his will to fight for this team until the end to try to win the title."
Conte refused to confirm whether the Spaniard will start against Hull but did admit that he face a big selection dilemma after Hazard, Willian and Pedro impressed in his trident attack against Leicester.
"To make a decision is not easy because I have four or five players who are very strong in that position," the Chelsea boss said. "We have Eden, Willian, Pedro, Diego and Ruben. They are in good form and they give me different options. I'm pleased about this because when you have many players to choose from it's good. I've been sleeping less so I make the best decision but that's my task, to pick the best players game by game."
"I have to pick three players and if someone misses out it's not a punishment, only because at that moment I like to make choices based on the game and the opponent, that's very important to me."