Alvaro Morata flew out to Spain earlier this week, only to receive some concerning news from the national team’s doctors, who diagnosed his hamstring injury as a grade 2 myofascial injury, which carries with it a recovery period anywhere from 2-8 weeks, with the majority of cases resolving around 4-6 weeks. Morata was promptly sent back to Chelsea, where he’s now set to undergo further testing and more accurate estimates regarding his recovery and availability.
Chelsea want to assess Morata themselves before confirming Spain's diagnosis of hamstring injury. Update expected later this week #cfc— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) October 3, 2017
While Chelsea keep saying positive things, starting with Conte on Saturday after the match and reports such as this one from Simon Johnson of the Standard or this one from Matt Law of the Telegraph, there’s little reason to doubt the diagnosis of the Spanish doctors at this point — teams in Spain tend to be a lot better at communicating specific injuries than teams in England, which is how we know that the injury is a grade 2 problem, rather than just a vague diagnosis of “hamstring injury”. The severity of the strain is especially important in soft tissue injuries.
Morata himself apparently tweeted out something about being ready for the Crystal Palace game in 10 days, but that was quickly deleted. The same picture is up on his Instagram, but without the “[target] Crystal Palace” bit at the end.
With just two recognized strikers in the squad and Conte seemingly still not entirely trustful of Michy Batshuayi, Morata missing any length of time is concerning. But even more concerning is Chelsea’s apparent push to play down the significance of this. If that’s just a PR move, that’s fine, but if we end up pushing Morata back too quickly, we could very well end up in another Costa-hamstring saga (and most of his were just grade 1 ailments).
Conte already admitted to taking a risk with Morata on Saturday — not in terms of his hamstring, just in terms of fitness in general — and while an injury could’ve happened regardless of previous exertions, we must take great care in not overworking the squad.
“You have to try not to put your players in difficulty, but also take a risk (of not playing them).
"It's not simple for our wing backs. Moses is an important player for us and played two games against Stoke and Atletico. To play him three games in seven days you take a risk.
“With Morata it was the same, but I make this decision to risk Morata in this game because imagine (the reaction) if I decide to put Morata on the bench?”
-Antonio Conte; source: Evening Standard
Starting Morata was a reasonable decision, especially compared to some of the other decisions that were made in the 1-0 loss to Manchester City. The injury is unfortunate, but we’re just going to have to find ways to adjust. Whether that means trusting Batshuayi, or playing three smalls up top, we must ensure that Morata makes a full recovery (just as we did with Hazard).