Conte hints at Morata benching
Posted: 14 March 2018 Time: 17:00
Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte has hinted that their club-record signing may watch from the bench once again when the Premier League side face FC Barcelona tonight.
The Blues take on the LaLiga leaders in the second leg of their last-16 UEFA Champions League fixture at the Camp Nou, with the Blaugrana holding a slender away goal advantage from the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge last month.
Conte came under intense scrutiny in English media for his tactical decision to leave Alvaro Morata on the bench and start diminutive playmaker Eden Hazard in a false nine role.
The Belgian ace has continued to toil away in the unfamiliar role and the calls for Morata's inclusion may fall on deaf ears according to the Italian - as he hinted the former Real Madrid man is not ready for the high profile fixture.
"Don't forget, for Morata, this is the first full season in his career," Conte told reporters, as quoted by AS. "Also because, in the past, with Real Madrid and Juventus, he was on the bench. He was the first substitution if the striker was injured. For this reason, I think we must have great patience.
"For sure, he is a really important prospect for Chelsea, for the present and the future. He will be in contention for tomorrow's game. I saw great focus, great will [from Morata] to try and fight for a place. I can tell you this."