(Reuters) – Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata has recovered from a back problem and is in contention for Saturday’s Premier League game against Southampton, manager Antonio Conte said on Friday.
Spain international Morata has made 15 league appearances for Chelsea this season, scoring nine goals but missed the 3-1 win over Huddersfield Town on Tuesday.
Morata has returned to training and Conte expects his first-choice striker to shake off the lingering back pain to be ready for Saturday’s clash against 11th-placed Southampton.
“He trained with us two days ago and today. He has this pain in his back but he is in contention for tomorrow’s game,” Conte told a news conference on Friday.
Morata has hit the ground running since moving to London from Real Madrid in the close season and has been viewing videos of former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba in an effort to make a bigger impact.
“I think he (Drogba) is more powerful but don’t forget Alvaro has a lot of space for improvement. He is strong physically, he is a technical player and I see a great future for him.”
Conte said defender David Luiz’s knee injury is “serious” and added that the player would be assessed on a day-to-day basis with no definite timeline for a return to action.
Luiz was dropped for Chelsea’s league matches against Manchester United, West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool before suffering the injury that has kept him out of the last four league games.
“David has a big inflammation in his knee and we are trying to solve the situation with the doctor. It is important to assess the situation day by day and solve this problem. I don’t know when he is able to come back,” Conte said.
“The player is working apart (from the team). In the last few days he was out to work in the pool. Today I saw him on the pitch to try to run a bit but very slow.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)