Nelsen ready for Chelsea FA Cup test
Ryan Nelsen (Reuters)
Ryan Nelsen will have no problem pitting his wits against Chelsea's strikers if called upon for this weekend's FA Cup semi-final.
The New Zealand defender has warned the Blues that Tottenham still have players who can rip them apart despite their recent wobble.
Tottenham's poor Premier League form sunk to a new low on Monday when they suffered only their third home defeat of the campaign against Norwich.
The fourth-placed Londoners now appear to be out of the reckoning for third place and are level with Newcastle, vying for a top four finish and spot in the Champions League.
Spurs manager Harry Redknapp now also has a major selection headache in defence ahead of Sunday's semi-final after Younes Kaboul hobbled off with a knee injury against Norwich.
Michael Dawson is out for the season with an ankle injury, while William Gallas and Ledley King have struggled with calf and knee complaints all season, meaning Nelsen may be thrust into action at Wembley just three months after his release from Blackburn.
"I've played them (Chelsea) for the last eight seasons, we've all played against them," he said.
"That's why I was brought in, to help out if situations arise like that, of course."
Despite only drawing at Fulham on Monday, Chelsea have undergone a mini-transformation under interim manager Roberto Di Matteo.
The Italian has got his squad playing with more fluency and venom.
Spurs, in contrast, have been a shadow of their former selves in recent weeks.
Redknapp's men have won just once in their last eight league games but they are buoyed by their recent 0-0 draw at Chelsea, where they were unlucky not to beat the Blues.
"I think the last time we played Chelsea it was probably a game that we could have won, so we'll go there with a lot of confidence," Nelsen said.
When quizzed about the fear of facing the likes of Juan Mata, Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres, the All Whites captain replied: "Well, they will be facing (Emmanuel) Adebayor, (Jermain) Defoe and (Louis) Saha, (Luka) Modric and (Rafael) van der Vaart... We all see what they can do every day in training."