Chelsea manager Conte hopeful over Morata injury

LONDON: Chelsea manager Antonio Conte expressed optimism about the extent of the injury that curtailed striker Alvaro Morata's involvement in Saturday's 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," Conte told his post-match press conference.

"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 days has to check the situation. I don't think he's available for the national team."

Morata has scored seven goals in eight games for Chelsea since signing from Real Madrid during the close season.

Kevin De Bruyne's second-half goal earned City a 1-0 win that took them back to the top of the table, above Manchester United on goal difference, and left Chelsea six points off the pace in fourth place. — AFP