LONDON (Reuters) - Alvaro Morata is primed to lead Chelsea’s attack against AS Roma in the Champions League on Wednesday as the Blues seek to quickly erase the embarrassment of their weekend loss to the Premier League’s bottom club Crystal Palace.
The Spaniard missed the 2-1 defeat after injuring his hamstring against Manchester City before the international break.
But the 58 million-pound ($77 million) striker underwent full training on Sunday and Chelsea captain Gary Cahill indicated his return is imminent.
“He is back out on the pitch and hopefully he keeps progressing okay,” said Cahill.
That will be welcome news to Chelsea manager Antonio Conte who substituted Morata’s replacement Michy Batshuayi on Saturday after 57 minutes of his second league start of the season.
A nine-point gap separates Chelsea from leaders City but the Blues top their Champions League group, two points ahead of second-placed Roma, after winning both opening Group C games.
One of Morata’s seven goals this season came in Chelsea’s 2-1 victory at Atletico Madrid, a result and performance that suggested the London club could be a real force in the competition.
But injuries are biting into a squad that has been criticised for being too thin, with deadline-day signing Danny Drinkwater still unfit and N‘golo Kante, another hamstring victim, out for several weeks.
In the defensive midfielder’s absence, Chelsea’s defence was badly exposed on Saturday and Cahill is expecting a marked improvement on Wednesday.
“When you have had a bad result and a bad performance, you want to play again as soon as possible, which is midweek for us, to try to put it right,” Cahill told the club’s website.
“My role as a skipper now is to go into training and be positive and go again. The result is gone and you go in and you work and produce a performance on Wednesday that we know we can, get that winning feeling back and then we go from there.”
($1 = 0.7527 pounds)
Reporting by Neil Robinson, editing by Ed Osmond