Football

Conte hopeful over Morata's 'muscle' injury

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte expressed optimism over the extent of the injury that curtailed striker Alvaro Morata's involvement in yesterday morning's (Singapore time) 1-0 loss at home to Manchester City.

Morata was substituted in the 35th minute of the game at Stamford Bridge and appeared to gesture to his left hamstring as he left the pitch.

Conte hopes Morata's early exit spared him from a more serious injury, although he said the 24-year-old was unlikely to be able to join up with the Spain squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Albania and Israel.

"It's a muscular problem. I don't think it's a serious problem," said Conte .

"Because it stopped before becoming a serious injury.

"He said to me, 'Coach, I prefer to stop myself otherwise I risk a bad injury'.

"The doctor in the next few days has to check the situation. I don't think he's available for the national team."

Conte said his players were tired after only 30 minutes of yesterday morning's game, three days after they defeated Atletico Madrid away in the Champions League.

"About this issue, I have already spoken," Conte said.

"When you have to play a massive game only (three) days later, you must consider the fatigue in the legs of your players.

"It's impossible to press box to box and, after 30 minutes, you don't have the energy to continue to play this game."

The result left the Premier League champions fourth in the table, six points behind leaders City and second-placed Manchester United and one point behind third-placed Tottenham Hotspur.

Chelsea have now lost twice at Stamford Bridge this season and Conte said they had faced a tough fixtures schedule.

"You have to consider in seven games, we played Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham and also Everton," said the Italian.

"Our start wasn't so easy. We have the points we deserve." - WIRE SERVICES