Blackburn Rovers boss Mark Hughes admits he's desperate to get Christopher Samba and Ryan Nelsen back to full fitness.

Blackburn conceded only three goals in their first nine competitive matches of 2007-08 and Hughes said of the duo: "They have been the strength of our side, in the initial part of this season.

"They have given us a real defensive base from which we can play our football. It would be a big blow if we lost the pair of them."

Samba returned to full training on Friday after being concussed by a stray boot from Chelsea's Andriy Shevchenko in the goalless draw at Stamford Bridge last weekend.

Perhaps crucially Samba missed the shock 2-0 UEFA Cup defeat to Greek side Larissa on Thursday, during which Kiwi Nelsen, 29, aggravated his long-standing hamstring damage.

"He is a little bit sore but it is similar to the episode concerning his hamstring last year," Hughes reflected.

"He missed 10 or 15 days or so and felt a similar pain this time.

"It is not a hamstring as such, it is not a muscle injury, it is just a pain he gets when the scar tissue releases. If that's the case the prognosis is probably better than we initially thought."