30 Jan 2013

Nelsen sent off with a guard of honour at QPR

12:53 pm on 30 January 2013

The retiring All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen has played his last game in English football's Premier League, and the 35-year-old stalwart was sent off the pitch at Queens Park Rangers' home ground of Loftus Road by a guard of honour from his team-mates.

QPR manager Harry Redknapp was hopeful of keeping Nelsen on for one more game after Wednesday's home 0-0 draw against defending champions Manchester City, which extended QPR's unbeaten run in 2013 as the strugglers battle for survival.

Sunday's home game against Norwich is crucial for QPR's bid to avoid relegation but Nelsen, who's spent eight years in the Premier League with Blackburn, Tottenham and QPR, is due to join Toronto as their head coach in the MLS this weekend.

Redknapp said when he last talked to Nelsen he thought it was March 1st he was leaving and QPR are desperately short and need him to play - but he's since conceded defeat, and says it'll be very difficult to replace Nelsen.

And the veteran English manager described Nelsen as "a proper centre half" and a player he wanted to sign for years before finally landing him at Tottenham, and Redknapp couldn't believe Spurs let him go, so he snapped him up again because "he's a lad you keep around and he's just been absolutely outstanding for us".

Redknapp says it's very difficult to replace Nelsen as it's hard to find people who can play in the centre of defence.

In the day's other Premier League matches Aston Villa dropped into the relegation zone with a 2-1 home loss to fellow strugglers Newcastle United.

Wigan Athletic moved above Villa and out of the bottom three on goal difference, after drawing 2-2 at Stoke City while Sunderland drew 0-0 to visitors Swansea.