Alvaro Morata’s return to the Chelsea team may be delayed by personal grief after the death of a close friend in a car accident.
Morata, out of action with a back problem, was given permission by Antonio Conte to take time out away from treatment last week as he came to terms with the devastating news.
The Spain international was already ruled out of Chelsea’s FA Cup fourth round tie against Newcastle on Sunday and is not expected to be fit for the Premier League game against Bournemouth on Wednesday.
Morata made a prolific start to his career in English football with seven goals in his first eight games after he became the club’s record signing last summer with a £70million move from Real Madrid.
The goals have dried up, however, and the 25-year-old has not found the net since scoring the opening goal in a 2-0 win against Brighton on Boxing Day.
On his last appearance, he was sent off within 30 minutes of coming on as a substitute in the FA Cup third round replay against Norwich.
Conte’s team finished the tie with nine but won on penalties and Sunday’s clash with Newcastle has taken on new significance after the midweek defeat in the Carabao Cup semi-final against Arsenal.
Chelsea remain hopeful of signing another centre-forward before Wednesday’s transfer deadline to ease Morata’s workload with negotiations ongoing for a deal for Edin Dzeko from Roma.