Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois and Andreas Christensen doubts for Spurs game
LONDON -- Chelsea face defensive problems ahead of Sunday's home match against Tottenham Hotspur, with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and centre-back Andreas Christensen both injury doubts.
Christensen was sent home from the Denmark squad this week with what manager Age Hareide described as "a little fatigue," while Courtois missed Belgium's 4-0 win over Saudi Arabia with a hamstring problem.
David Luiz would be the preferred choice to step in for Christensen at the heart of the Chelsea defence, but coach Antonio Conte said the Brazil international remains sidelined by a knee injury.
"We have to check very well these couple of situations, Courtois and Christensen," Conte told his prematch news conference.
"We'll see what is the real physical condition, if they are able to play on Sunday. In this moment it's very difficult for me to tell you with accuracy which is my choice.
"David Luiz is out for at least three weeks. He's recovering from a problem in his knee. The other solution [for the middle of the back three] is [Gary] Cahill."
Another player not in Conte's immediate plans is Ross Barkley, who has not made a first-team appearance since January as he struggles with the effects of a serious hamstring injury.
"Barkley started to have training sessions," the coach said. "We prefer [for him] to have training sessions with the U23s and play on Saturday and then to play with us.
"We're talking about a player who is coming from a bad injury, seven months without playing. We want to have patience with him."
Tottenham's injury concerns ahead of Sunday's trip to Stamford Bridge centre around top scorer Harry Kane, who is battling to be fit after missing England duty with damaged ankle ligaments.
But Conte dismissed the suggestion that the visitors' threat would be limited in his absence, saying: "Tottenham is an important team for the whole team.
"They have many talented players, they play good football with great intensity. Also in the past they showed that, despite Kane missing many games, nothing has changed."
Meanwhile, striker Alvaro Morata is likely to start after ending a 13-game goal drought in Chelsea's FA Cup victory over Leicester City.
Morata was overlooked by Julen Lopetegui for the latest Spain squad, but Conte is encouraged by what he has seen from the striker in training.
"I think this period for Alvaro was very important," he said. "In this week he has worked very well.
"Now he's 100 percent and he's ready to have an important final part of the season for Chelsea, then to have a chance to play for Spain at the World Cup."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.