Antonio Conte addressed the media on Friday in his customary pre-match press conference ahead of Chelsea’s cross-town trip to West Ham for Saturday’s early kick-off. The Chelsea head coach unfortunately had some bad news to report, as in addition to the expected unavailability of David Luiz, who continues to suffer from a knee injury, the Blues will be one midfielder light as well. Danny Drinkwater has apparently been ill for the past three days and is in condition to play.
Conte reports that David Luiz is out injured and Danny Drinkwater is unavailable due to sickness. He has to check the physical condition of a couple of other players before making a selection.— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 8, 2017
One of the “other players” hinted at by Conte could be Álvaro Morata, as according to the London Evening Standard, the Spanish striker underwent a scan after pulling up in today’s early training session. Still, he travelled with the team to the hotel they are staying at ahead of tomorrow’s game. Complicating matters a bit is the fact that backup striker Michy Batshuayi played 90 minutes on Wednesday for Chelsea U23 as he himself finishes recovery from an ankle injury.
At the beginning of the season, Chelsea suffered heavily with injuries to key players, including Morata who was behind in his fitness to begin with thanks to all the uncertainty in the summer over his future, and also picked up a hamstring injury in October. Thankfully Morata has still managed to settle and score a bunch of goals already. The bulk of the injury crisis seems to be a thing of the past as well, although with the busy fixture list, remains a constant concern.
"I try to protect every player. When you play every three days it’s very difficult. It’s impossible to keep your form at the best level if you play without training sessions. Your form can go up and down. This can be dangerous. Also, the risk of injury is very high. I will try to rotate my players.
"Our squad is not so big, but I am giving my players the chance to show me they deserve to play. When I did this I received a good response from my players."
-Antonio Conte; Source: Chelsea FC
More rotation could be on the way for the Blues then, especially after Tuesday’s full strength lineup against Atlético. Either way, three points will be a must against West Ham, especially with at least one of the Manchester clubs guaranteed to drop points on Sunday in their derby.