Albion boss Gus Poyet has welcomed the return of Andrew Crofts, below, for his team’s toughest test so far this season.

Crofts has missed six of the Seagulls’ first ten matches in the Championship after Poyet re-signed his former captain from Norwich City.

He has not played since limping off in the first half of the victory at Burnley on September 1 with a hamstring problem.

The injury has taken longer than expected to heal and ruled the combative midfielder out of the Wales squad for their World Cup qualifiers at home to Scotland on Friday night and in Belgium next Tuesday.

But Poyet expects to have Crofts back when Albion return to action following the international break against mid-table Middlesbrough at The Amex on October 20.

That launches a searching burst of four matches in 13 days for the Seagulls, including trips to next-to-top Leicester, eighth-placed Blackpool and the visit of seventh-placed Leeds.

Poyet told The Argus: "He has never been injured like that before and maybe, because of the type of player Crofty is, he pushed it a little bit too much.

"I am looking forward to seeing him back, because he is totally different to what we have. If you need a goal he will give you a header, he will give you power. "There are plenty of things he is going to give us, like also the experience of playing in the Premier League."

Defenders Lewis Dunk and Marcos Painter, ousted from the first team by Adam El-Abd and Wayne Bridge, featured in a 2-1 friendly defeat for Luke Williams’ development team at MK Dons yesterday.

Former Norwich prospect Theo Jones provided Albion’s interval lead.