DEVASTATED Dean Windass last night admitted he was reduced to tears by the freak back injury which forced him to miss Middlesbrough's derby victory at Newcastle.

The £1m signing from Bradford City, who was due to make his debut, cried in pain and anguish after suffering the injury when he threw his kit bag into the boot of his car on the morning of the match.

But Windass, whose transfer was only completed less than 48 hours before the game after complications with the method of fee payment, is refusing to rule himself out of the clash with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge a week on Saturday.

The 31-year-old attacker explained: "I just put my bag in the boot and felt something go. I thought 'what the hell was that?'

"I kept thinking I was dreaming and I'd wake up. I just tried to convince myself it was nothing and I would be all right.

"By the time I'd driven to the training ground I couldn't move. The physio felt my back and I just screamed in agony immediately. There was obviously nothing I could do.

"I was crying. I just couldn't believe it. It was just a complete freak accident.

"I've never had a serious injury in my career, never mind something like this.

"I'd worked hard in training and I couldn't wait to play. After all the uncertainty I wanted to get out there, especially as I was making my debut in a derby.

"I was never really worried about the deal going through because Terry Venables reassured me from day one that it would and we started working on the team from Tuesday.

"But I was looking forward to getting that first game out of the way.

"I had to lie down and watch it on TV and it's a fantastic result. The lads did brilliantly and that was the most important thing all weekend, never mind how I was feeling.

"My back is easing now and I'm up and about. It still hurts when I cough or laugh - not that I've been doing much laughing!

"I've no idea how long it will take but I'm still hopeful I'll be fit for the Chelsea game.''

But Boro head coach Venables said: "I'd be surprised if he's back very quickly - he was in a really bad way.

"I felt very sorry for him because he was dying to play and really upset.''

A breathtaking brace from Alen Boksic gave relegation-threatened Boro the platform for a vital 2-1 win which was ultimately achieved with ten men after Phil Stamp was sent off for his second bookable offence - a wild challenge on Newcastle skipper Robert Lee.

Boro are now four points clear of third-bottom Manchester City with a superior goal difference, and Venables said: "This was a hard game for us and we know the Chelsea match will be even harder.

"I know the wheels came off for them against Sunderland, but if you look back over a season, Chelsea give very little away at home.

"We knew if we didn't get a good result against Newcastle, it could have looked really bad for us. It was a good performance - we showed shape, discipline and worked hard.

"And there were two great goals from a great player. I've been fortunate to work with a lot of good front players and Alen is top drawer. He's a wonderful player.

"But I don't want to take anything away from the rest of the team, because with ten men you can use that as an excuse to lose and they didn't do that.

"It was a reckless tackle by Stamp and he should know better.''

The midfielder, who wouldn't have played had Windass been fit, is banned for the Chelsea match.

Venables, meanwhile, insisted that talk of him being a candidate for the Tottenham job would not deflect him from Boro's survival fight.

The former Spurs boss, only tied to Boro until the end of the season, said: "It's not a distraction.

"I wouldn't discuss anything outside what I'm doing now. I've only got one thing in my mind and that is to try to keep Middlesbrough in the Premiership.''