Chelsea’s 2018 has gone from bad to worse today, after manager Antonio Conte admitted he doesn’t know how long star striker Alvaro Morata will be out of action.

The Spaniard has missed four games through a back injury, and according to his Blues coach, it may be worse than initially feared for Chelsea’s first-choice striker.

In a press conference held ahead of the Blues’ Premier League fixture with West Brom on Monday, Conte admitted: “If you ask me, one month, one day, two months or the rest of the season – I don’t know. And for this reason I’m a bit worried, no? Because you know very well the importance of the player.”

The Italian was pushed on whether allowing backup forward Michy Batshuayi to depart Stamford Bridge on loan to Borussia Dortmund during January’s transfer window was a wise move considering his more favoured teammate appears to be out for the long term. The 48-year-old would not be drawn on the criticism, however, stating: “Yeah, I think now the transfer market has finished, we took a decision.

“Now, I think this is not important to say we could do this or we couldn’t do this; the most important thing is to focus on the present and try to finish the best way possible and not regret anything.”

“Madrid is always Madrid”

Meanwhile, Morata has sent social media alight this evening by hinting that a return to Real Madrid may be on the cards in the future, telling Spanish TV channel Espacio Reservado that while he “has to respect Chelsea”, “Madrid is always Madrid”.