Ryan Nelsen believes Blackburn team-mate Christopher Samba can play at the very highest level but is happy to be alongside him for the foreseeable future.

Congo international Samba signed a new four-and-a-half year deal this week while central defensive partner Nelsen was enjoying a euphoric week with New Zealand. Both men have been a hit at Ewood Park after arriving for paltry fees with Samba, 25, now valued at many times his £400,000 transfer from Hertha Berlin in January 2007.

"The big man's been brilliant since he's been here," said Rovers captain Nelsen. "He came for nothing and has provided some fantastic service and some quality performances. In the long-term it bodes well for Blackburn's future."

Interest in Samba from teams competing for places in the Champions League would not surprise Nelsen.

"It is up to Chris how far he goes," Nelsen said. "He has all the qualities: height, speed, technique, all that.

"When you have all the attributes it is up to the individual. "If he keeps performing with Blackburn things will happen but I am glad he has signed here."

Ewood Park manager Sam Allardyce, who returns to old club Bolton on Sunday seeking to avert an 11th straight Barclays Premier League away defeat, said: "The core strength of your side lies down the middle: your goalkeeper, your centre-halves, your midfield and forwards.

"You build the rest of your side around that and Chris' experience in the Premier League is invaluable to us as a team.

"At his young age it is securing a valuable asset as well as a very good Premier League player. We are all delighted he has signed a longer-term contract."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
#European News
#Football
#Blackburn Rovers
#Bolton Wanderers
#Premier League
#UEFA Champions League
#Christopher Samba
#Ryan Nelsen