Antonio Conte says that Alvaro Morata was taken off more as a precaution in the first half of the game and does not believe it is “serious”, but said he is likely to stay in London this week rather than travel with the Spanish team.
The striker went off after just 36 minutes, gesturing to his hamstring after telling Content of his intentions to be replaced .
“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.
“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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