Ryan Nelsen in recovery mode for QPR clash
Ryan Nelsen's London-bound plane might be on "automatic pilot" but he's determined not to be as he faces a must-win English premier league game with Queen's Park Rangers.
The All Whites skipper left his Christchurch hometown yesterday afternoon to return to QPR to prepare for Monday's meeting with third-placed Everton.
QPR is sitting bottom of the standings without a win and another defeat could prove calamitous to manager Mark Hughes' hopes of retaining his job.
Hughes would have been pleased to hear Nelsen say his knee had "held up" after leading the All Whites to a 3-0 win over Tahiti on Tuesday.
"It is what it is," said Nelsen, who remarked he would have been "extremely surprised" if anyone had told him when he first suffered a degenerative knee problem "at 18 or 19" that he'd still be playing football just two days before his 35th birthday.
But while he felt fine immediately after the Christchurch match he knew the next few days would be critical.
"It's the repercussions after [a game] that I get in trouble with, the two to three days later when you get on a plane and fly around the world and you come across an angry manager of a team that's not doing that well in the premier league. It's not too much fun but, hopefully, it'll be right," he said.
Nelsen has plenty of respect for Hughes, who awarded him his first premier league contract at Blackburn Rovers in 2005 and he is determined to do all he can to arrest QPR's slide.
His main aims against Tahiti were to help the All Whites to a fourth consecutive win in the World Cup Oceania qualifying series and to avoid aggravating his niggly knee.
"A game like [Tuesday night], and I'll say this the most polite way I possibly can, you try to kind of go on to automatic pilot where you get by doing as little as possible . . . get all the young guys like Ben Sigmund and Tommy Smith to do all your running for you.
"And now, it's just recovery mode. Every hour of every day until the next game when we've got Everton. It's all about recovery and preparing yourself. You just absolutely cannot be on automatic pilot when you play over there."
"If you're 95 per cent you're going to be in big trouble, you've got to be bordering on 100. It's just literally preparing for that now."
Nelsen intended to spend time with his parents Wayne and Christine and his extended family yesterday before flying out.
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