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Europa League round of 16 draw

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By ESPN Staff

Rovers call for commonsense over Nelsen's fitness

Blackburn captain Ryan Nelsen is set for a quick return to action - but that may yet lead to other problems.

Nelsen could only watch from the sidelines yesterday as Blackburn suffered a 1-0 Premier League defeat to Portsmouth at Ewood Park.

The central defender was out after stretching scar tissue from a hamstring operation during last Thursday's 2-0 loss in the first leg of a UEFA Cup first-round tie to Larissa in Greece.

However, Nelsen was seen ahead of the clash against Pompey running along the touchline, and he could be available for the return with the Greek Cup winners on October 4.

Another possibility is the league match at home to Birmingham that follows three days later, before international duty then beckons.

That is of concern to Hughes as Nelsen is certain to be called up for the World Cup qualifying double-header with Vanuatu on October 13 and 17, guaranteeing a virtual round-the-world trip.

'There are international games coming, and there's nothing you can do,' said Hughes. 'But if he's injured then he doesn't make the games. We'll have to have dialogue with them (New Zealand Football) and we'll see what the situation is.

'But travelling halfway around the world might not be the best thing given he has had an episode with his hamstring.

'At least it's not a hamstring strain or pull. It's just scar tissue that has released itself.

'It's initially very sore, but once the pain subsides he should be okay, and hopefully he will be back sooner rather than later.

'Next weekend may be a bit soon for him, but I certainly hope the week after.'

Hughes conceded to missing a player of Nelsen's influence as his side slumped to a second defeat in four days.

The former Wales boss was keen not to put too much emphasis on the effect the loss in Greece had on his players, many of whom will be rested for Wednesday's visit of Birmingham for a Carling Cup tie.

'We don't want to really highlight it (the UEFA Cup game) because we aspire to be a club that can cope with the demands of playing in competitions on all fronts,' added Hughes.

'We needed to improve, but with hindsight some of the guys that played needed to be taken out and given a rest.

'We can do that in midweek because we've the cup game. I can look at changing a few things, and that will freshen the squad up I'm sure.'