Injury agony for Kiwi captain
New Zealand captain Ryan Nelsen will miss the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009 after tearing a calf muscle playing for Blackburn Rovers against Chelsea in the English Premier League at the weekend.
The 31-year-old defender is likely to be out for the next four to six weeks, in what New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert said was a "massive blow" for the team. "I think the confidence, leadership, competitiveness and experience that Ryan has against players of the calibre we are going to play is going to be missing now and that is going to be a massive loss for the team."
New Zealand are due to play Spain, South Africa and Iraq in next month's tournament in South Africa, as well as a warm-up game against world champions Italy, plus other internationals against Tanzania and Botswana.
Nelsen ended a four-year absence from the All Whites against New Caledonia in a FIFA World Cup™ qualifier last year and said he was devastated he would not be playing in the Confederations Cup. "I was really looking forward to playing. The Confederations Cup is great preparation for the World Cup play-off and I'm just gutted I wont be there now," he said.
"It is so frustrating. I've felt really good this year and I think including internationals I have played close to 50 games this season. The body has been feeling really great but I suppose it was a heavy load and maybe it was God's way of telling me I needed a break."
With Ben Sigmund still working his way back to full fitness after off-season hip surgery, Andy Boyens and Steven Old remain currently as the only match-ready central defenders in the 23-man squad. Herbert is expected to announce a replacement for Nelsen tomorrow.