WANDERERS will be forced into a defensive reshuffle in this weekend’s Lancashire derby after Matt Mills was ruled out of action.

It is understood the centre-half, who pulled up late in the impressive 2-0 victory over Watford, will miss Saturday’s Reebok clash with local rivals Blackburn Rovers.

It is feared Mills has suffered a minor knee problem, although the club are yet to comment officially on the exact nature or extent of the injury.

Mills has missed just one game since mid-September and had started to form a solid partnership with David Wheater after he returned to Dougie Freedman’s line-up a few weeks ago.

Club skipper Zat Knight could now be drafted into the back four having missed the last three games.

He has played alongside Wheater on five occasions earlier this season, but it proved to be a difficult spell in which Wanderers picked up just two points.

Mills’ absence will be regarded as a blow in the Wanderers camp, which had been understandably buoyant after one of the most encouraging performances in recent weeks against the Hornets.

Freedman said last weekend he was looking to bring in “one or two” defensive reinforcements for a back four that has been wafer thin for much of the season – and with youngster Cian Bolger also joining Mills on the sidelines this week, his options are now more limited than ever.

Darren Pratley remains a doubt for Saturday’s derby even though reports from the club insist his shoulder problem is not as serious as first feared.

Blackburn have also lost one of their key men with Tom Cairney not expected to face the Whites after picking up an ankle injury.

The ex-Hull playmaker limped out of last weekend’s draw against Reading but while a scan on Monday revealed no lasting damage, Rovers boss Gary Bowyer has said he will take no risks with the youngster’s fitness.