Antonio Conte plays down Alvaro Morata injury fears as he admits Chelsea were beaten by better side Manchester City

Striker is unlikely to join Spain's squad for next week's World Cup qualifiers but Conte stresses his removal was a precaution rather than reaction to injury

Miguel Delaney
Stamford Bridge
Saturday 30 September 2017 20:56
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Alvaro Morata is forced off in the first half with what looked to be a hamstring injury
Alvaro Morata is forced off in the first half with what looked to be a hamstring injury

Antonio Conte says that Alvaro Morata was taken off more as a precaution in the first half of Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat by Manchester City, and does not believe it is “serious”, but said he is likely to stay in London this week rather than travel with the Spanish national team for the World Cup qualifying matches against Albania and Israel.

The striker went off after just 36 minutes, gesturing to his hamstring.

“It's a muscular problem,” Conte said. “I don't think it's a serious problem because he stopped before it will become a serious injury. He said to me 'coach I prefer to stop myself otherwise I risk a bad injury'. I don't know. The doctor now in the next days has to check the situation, but I don't think he's available for the national team.

“It's normal when you play three massive games in only seven days, you must consider this aspect. We needed to take this risk because Morata for us is an important player.”

Conte however did not go for a like-for-like replacement, bringing on Willian and putting Eden Hazard up front as a false nine, rather than introducing Michy Batshuayi.

“It was a simple tactical decision,” Conte said. “This type of game I thought Willian with Hazard was a good decision, to try to exploit the space behind the defenders. It's a simple tactical decision.”

A somewhat toothless Chelsea were eventually beaten by a Kevin De Bruyne goal, and had generally looked outclassed, but Conte did not express too much concern at that in public as he also reflected on how difficult the champions’ opening fixtures have been. Chelsea have had to face four of last season’s top seven in their opening seven games.

“For sure there is disappointment for the result, but I think at the same time I'm pleased, I'm pleased for the commitment of my players. Today we gave everything and after a game you can win or you can lose, but I think the most important thing is to see that your players give you everything. Today it happened like this.”

“I think you have to consider that in seven games we played with Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham and also Everton. I think our start wasn't so so easy. I think we have the points that we deserve.

Conte was not overly concerned with defeat having played four of last season's top seven

“Last season Manchester City was a very good team, very strong. I think after this transfer market they improved a lot. They strengthened. I think so. But I repeat: it's right to compliment them, compliment our opponent. This is football. We have to accept the result, above all because today we know that we gave everything.”

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