STEVE SIDWELL is out of Albion’s bid for Premier League survival after suffering an ankle fracture during his recovery from a back operation.

The veteran midfielder has not featured this season due to a prolapsed disc in his back, which required urgent surgery.

He has now undergone a second op on the ankle damage and will be sidelined for several months.

Boss Chris Hughton revealed to The Argus: “He picked it up in training. He’s had a small fracture in his ankle which has been operated on.

“That will keep him out for a period of time. We haven’t had him available at this stage anyway, so it’s not like a player that has been fit, but it is a blow for us and a blow for him.

“It’s unfortunate for Steve. He is one of those very durable individuals who in my time here hasn’t missed much training. I think he has been quite fortunate in his career injury-wise as well, so it’s a blow for both of us.”

Sidwell played 34 games in last season’s Championship promotion campaign.

He had targeted a return to contention from the back surgery at the end of the month but the 35-year-old, who is out of contract in the summer, will not be able to add this season to his 200 Premier League appearances for Reading, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Fulham and Stoke.

Hughton believes Sidwell still has a role to play in the push to stay up. He said: “You want the likes of him, Liam Rosenior and Bruno, good and influential people to have around the place. They have a good effect on the players.”

It is the second injury setback in swift succession for Albion. Loan signing Izzy Brown has gone back to Chelsea after tearing an anterior cruciate knee ligament in the early stages of Monday’s FA Cup win over Crystal Palace.

The Seagulls are weighing up their options to replace Brown in the January transfer window. Sidwell’s injury is unlikely to impact on their plans.

Tickets go on sale today for the fourth round FA Cup tie away to Middlesbrough, which has been confirmed for Saturday January 27 (3pm).