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By ESPN Staff

Blackburn's Nelsen ruled out until Christmas

Blackburn defender Ryan Nelsen will be sidelined until Christmas after undergoing surgery today to cure a nagging hamstring injury.

The New Zealand international centre-back had struggled with the problem since the start of the summer, forcing him out of Rovers' pre-season campaign.

Despite intensive treatment over the past few months, the injury has shown no sign of clearing up, forcing 28-year-old Nelsen to seek specialist advice overseas.

Due to the nature of the problem, Nelsen has been operated on by one of the world's leading surgeons for sports muscle injuries - Professor Sakari Orava from Finland.

While the operation was a success, the bad news for boss Mark Hughes is that Nelsen faces a lengthy recuperative lay-off.

'Ryan Nelsen had his operation today,' confirmed Hughes.

'He is going to be out for around three months, so we'll probably get him back around Christmas-time. That's the way we are viewing it.

'It's unfortunate, but it needed to be done, and when he returns he will be like a new player for us.

'We had the best guy in the world performing the operation. He saw the problem, rectified it, and was very happy with the way surgery went.

'Hopefully, Ryan will recover quickly.'

As cover, Hughes signed former Rovers defender Stephane Henchoz as cover on Saturday, although the 32-year-old Swiss is still some way short of match fitness.

Henchoz, who spent two seasons at Ewood Park between 1997-99 after a £3million move from Hamburg, has missed most of pre-season following his release from Wigan at the end of last term.

'He needs a number of weeks,' added Hughes.

'But given the situation we find ourselves in with Ryan, I thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up of bringing in a player of Stephane's experience and ability.

'So I'm delighted we've covered the loss of Ryan with somebody of the ability of Stephane.'

After leaving Blackburn seven years ago, Henchoz moved on to enjoy a glorious spell with Liverpool, followed by an unhappy spell at Celtic, and then a solid season with the Latics on their debut in the Premiership.

Hughes added: 'He has been impressed by the changes he's seen in the time he has been away, so I think he will enjoy his time again with us.'

The good news for Hughes is that midfielder Steven Reid is fit for Rovers' UEFA Cup first-round first leg tie in Salzburg on Thursday.

Reid missed Saturday's goalless draw at Sheffield United with a nagging back injury, but has trained without problems over the past couple of days.

'It's a problem Steven has had for a while now,' remarked Hughes.

'But he trained yesterday and today and has come through. We hope there will be no reaction, so he should be available.'

Striker Jason Roberts, though, is out for up to three weeks with a groin injury sustained with the last kick of the ball in training on Friday.

'That was the most frustrating part of it,' said Hughes.

'He hadn't felt anything, then had a shot on goal and tweaked his groin, so that was a disappointment, but we have good players to come in and compensate.'