BLACKBURN defender Lorenzo Amoruso has been ruled out of tomorrow's trip to Chelsea.

The Italian will have an operation today to cure a heel problem.

It means manager Mark Hughes is likely to go with Craig Short and Dominic Matteo in the centre of defence against a team lying second in the Premiership, although Andy Todd is close to a recall.

Hughes said: "Amoruso is struggling with a heel injury. It's a blow to us because we would rather not lose any players at this stage of the season, but it needs sorting out so he will be fit and well for the rest of the season.

"I don't like putting deadlines on players because that can sometimes affect them if they don't meet them. We will just make sure he comes back fit and well.

"We welcome back Andy Todd which will compensate somewhat but we don't want to lose any more at this stage."

Meanwhile, Garry Flitcroft has handed Hughes a major boost by declaring himself fit for the trip to Stamford Bridge.

He has been sidelined with a back injury for the last 10 days, which meant he missed last Saturday's 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Middlesbrough.

But Flitcroft made a timely return to training yesterday and he's ready to answer an SOS from Hughes.

Hughes was facing a potential midfield headache for the game against his former club had Flitcroft not made himself available.

Tugay was already missing through suspension as a result of his sending off last weekend and David Thompson is still struggling to shake off the ankle injury he sustained against Manchester United in August.

That would have left Hughes with just one fit central midfielder in the shape of Barry Ferguson for one of Rovers' toughest assignments of the season so far.

But Flitcroft's return now gives the Blackburn boss greater options as Rovers go in search of their first away win of the season.

Recent form would suggest Chelsea are the red hot favourites to take all three points tomorrow.

Jose Mourinho's side have made their best ever start to a Premiership season, whereas Rovers have made their worst start since 1996, having won just one of their opening nine games.

But their record at The Bridge is impressive and they have not tasted defeat there in any of their last dozen visits.

The players believe they can get a positive result to kick-start their season.

Last week's crushing defeat against Boro came as a shock to the system but the mood has been good in training all week and now Hughes hopes his players can translate that into a decent performance against one of the Premiership's big guns.

"It's a tough one because Chelsea have made a decent start to the season but we've got to go down there and try and be hard to beat," said Flitcroft.

"I think it's only a matter of time before we start picking up some better results because everything is in place for us to do well.

"We just need to get a few wins under our belt from a confidence point of view then I'm sure you'll see us climbing the table."