Chelsea coach Antonio Conte claims Alvaro Morata is fighting hard to regain his position, but would not guarantee the striker a start against Barcelona on Wednesday.
Conte’s men face a difficult challenge at Camp Nou following a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.
The Premier League side must score to have any chance of advancing, prompting former Chelsea favourite Frank Lampard to call for Morata’s return.
The Spain international has found himself on the bench in the past two Premier League matches, having failed to score since Boxing Day.
“Don’t forget, for Morata, this is the first full season in his career,” Conte told reporters.
“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.”
Spirits high at the Camp Nou! pic.twitter.com/F9IlCGPPm9
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) March 13, 2018
In addition to confirming Antonio Rudiger’s availability, Conte revealed his hope for Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta to overcome a hamstring injury.
“Iniesta is a genius of football. I like to compare him with Andrea Pirlo,” the Blues boss said.
“We are talking about a genius, a genius with a football. I don’t know if tomorrow he could play but I think, in this type of game, it’s right to face the best players, and not hope that they could miss out through injury.”