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All Whites confident Nelsen will play

Published: 6:28PM Monday October 05, 2009 Source: NZPA

All Whites management are confident injured captain Ryan Nelsen will be fit to play Bahrain in the first leg of the World Cup playoff in Manama on Sunday.

Nelsen missed Blackburn's 2-6 loss to Arsenal in the English premier league on Monday because of a back injury sustained against Aston Villa last week.

But New Zealand assistant coach Brian Turner thinks the defender will right to play in the first of two matches against Bahrain.

"Our physio Roland Jeffery spoke to Ryan overnight and while he couldn't take part against Arsenal, he's having treatment and we're confident he'll be right to play against Bahrain," Turner said.

The All Whites will base themselves in Dubai until the day before the match.

Nelsen is expected to miss the first few training sessions and his progress will be closely monitored by the team's medical staff.

While coach Ricki Herbert and the All Whites' Wellington Phoenix have already touched down in Dubai, Turner and the remaining New Zealand-based players left Auckland on Monday.

Nelsen, 31, has a chequered international record.

While a pivotal figure, he has played for New Zealand just 39 times since his debut in 1999, and did not feature in any match from 2004 to 2008, due to a combination of injury or his club commitments in England.

Most recently, a calf muscle injury forced him to miss the Confederations Cup tournament in South Africa in June.

The second match of the playoff against Bahrain is in Wellington on November 14.