Friday 19 January 2018

Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata faces lengthy lay-off with hamstring injury

Álvaro Morata walks off the pitch during Chelsea's 1-0 defeat to Manchester City. CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES
Álvaro Morata walks off the pitch during Chelsea's 1-0 defeat to Manchester City. CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

Matt Law

Chelsea have been dealt a major blow after the Spanish Football Federation claimed striker Álvaro Morata has suffered a grade two hamstring injury that could rule him out for over a month.

Morata was forced off in the 35th minute of Chelsea’s defeat to Manchester City with an injury to his left hamstring.

Head coach Antonio Conte admitted he took a risk over the fitness of Morata by starting him against City, but had suggested the Spaniard’s injury was not serious.

But in confirming that Morata had pulled out of the Spain squad for the games against Albania and Israel, the Spanish Federation revealed the 24-year-old had undergone an MRI scant that revealed a grade two injury.

Medical experts claim that a grade two hamstring injury can sideline a player for anywhere between six to eight weeks, although no official timescale has been put on Morata’s absence.

Morata will now return to Chelsea, where he will be scanned again, but losing the record signing for any length of time will be considerable headache for Conte.

Since joining from Real Madrid for £57million in the summer, Morata has scored seven goals for Chelsea and quickly established himself as one of the club’s key players.

Tellingly, Conte opted to replace Morata with Willian against City which only increased theories that he does not trust Michy Batshuayi in big games.

Batshuayi has scored vital goals for Chelsea from the substitutes’ bench and in cup competitions, but has struggled when relied upon from the start against tough opposition.

Chelsea travel to Crystal Palace after the international break, which Morata appears likely to miss, and also face Roma twice in the Champions League during October.

Manchester United travel to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea on Nov 5 in a game that Conte will be desperate to win following the defeat to Premier League title rivals City.

Should Morata be ruled out for any length of time, then more questions will be asked over why Chelsea did not sign more forward cover during the summer transfer window.

Conte wanted to bring in Fernando Llorente from Swansea City, but Chelsea were beaten to his signature by Tottenham Hotspur and Tammy Abraham was allowed to join the Welsh club on loan.

Chelsea last week confirmed that last season’s top scorer Diego Costa had officially returned to Atlético Madrid on an initial loan that will eventually become a £57.5m permanent deal.

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