Football: Blues left hamstrung up front

Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata coming off injured during last Saturday's defeat by Manchester City. They face a fixture congestion after their Oct 14 tie against Crystal Palace, with six games in the following 22 days and their main striker looks set
Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata coming off injured during last Saturday's defeat by Manchester City. They face a fixture congestion after their Oct 14 tie against Crystal Palace, with six games in the following 22 days and their main striker looks set to miss all of them.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Morata out for weeks with stand-in Batshuayi not trusted & a fixture pile-up adding to woes

LONDON • A day after Chelsea manager Antonio Conte played down the seriousness of Alvaro Morata's injury, it appears the Spain forward could be out of action for more than a month.

Chelsea were dealt the blow after the Spanish Football Federation said Morata had suffered a myofascial injury to his hamstring muscles.

Morata pulled up 10 minutes before half-time in the 1-0 defeat by Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, complaining of discomfort in his left thigh.

Conte suggested Morata's withdrawal had been precautionary and an attempt to ensure he did not suffer a more serious complaint. He added in a post-match interview that he envisaged Morata pulling out of the Spain squad in order to undergo treatment at Cobham.

So the prognosis was worse than the club expected.

Spain conducted their own tests on the 24-year-old on Sunday at the Sanitas University Hospital of La Moraleja in Madrid, where a scan revealed he has a grade two tear.

An MRI scan apparently revealed the damage is to muscle, rather than to tendons or ligaments, with recovery time for such an injury usually between four and six weeks.

  • 6

    Number of Premier League goals Alvaro Morata has scored for Chelsea since his move from Real Madrid

Chelsea will undertake their own series of checks, but will fear the worst and the loss of their £60 million (S$108 million) close-season signing from Real Madrid at such a busy period of the season would be untimely.

Morata has scored six goals in seven Premier League games for his new club - only Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku has scored more (seven) in the embryonic season.

The champions travel to bottom-placed Crystal Palace after the international break, but over the subsequent 22 days, they face a further six matches.

Those games include both Champions League ties against Roma. The Serie A side are the Blues' closest Group C rivals after two rounds, with four points from their opening two games.

Other matches include Premier League fixtures against Watford, Bournemouth and most significantly, a home clash against United on Nov 5.

Morata would not have been expected to play in the League Cup fourth-round tie at home against Everton.

Michy Batshuayi, the other recognised senior striker on the books after Diego Costa's departure to Atletico Madrid for £57 million last week, has scored five goals this season including the winner at Atletico last Wednesday.

Yet when Morata pulled up on Saturday, Conte chose to send on Willian in his place, which perhaps reflects the Belgian's standing.

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2017, with the headline 'Blues left hamstrung up front'. Print Edition | Subscribe