Dan Harding and Leon Knight have been nominated by FourFourTwo magazine as two of the best 50 players outside the Premiership.

With due respect to Albion's England under-21 defender and talented striker, they are not the two most important players to manager Mark McGhee.

That accolade goes to Guy Butters and Adam Virgo as the Seagulls continue their fight for Championship survival at Plymouth tomorrow.

It did not take long for McGhee to respond when asked to name the player he would not want to be without.

"The most important player at this moment in time that we wouldn't want to lose is Butts," McGhee said. "He is holding it all together.

"I think we can rotate between Chippy (Richard Carpenter), Alexis (Nicolas) and Charlie (Oatway) in midfield.

"We can alternate between Mark McCammon, Leon Knight, Gary Hart and Adam Virgo up front.

"Fullback-wise we've got Hinsh (Adam Hinshelwood), Reidy (Paul Reid) and Kerry (Mayo) as well. Butts as a left-sided stalwart in the centre of defence is very important to us."

Virgo, suspended from the last two matches, has emerged as a key figure this season since McGhee turned him into a central defender/centre forward.

His availability in the former role enables McGhee to operate the 3-5-2 system which has worked well on a number of occasions away from Withdean.

Up front, Virgo provides another physical presence in tandem with or as an alternative to McCammon.

"If you put it another way, who is first pick, it would be Virgs where ever he plays," McGhee said. "We want him in the team, he is key to us."

Albion have lost five, drawn one and won only two of the matches Virgo has not been involved in this season. Significantly perhaps, they have been beaten in all four of the away games they have played without him.

Virgo was at his father's funeral yesterday and has been on compassionate leave this week.

"He'll decide for himself when he's ready, whether it be Saturday, Tuesday (home to Wigan) or the following game (home to Reading)," McGhee said. "Obviously we want him back as quick as we can. He knows that."

The main object of the exercise for Albion tomorrow is to avoid defeat again at one of their happiest hunting grounds. They have not lost at Home Park since April 1993, when Kurt Nogan scored twice.

Nogan's goal the following season launched a run of three draws and three wins on the Seagulls' last six visits.

Butters and Oatway have been on target in 3-3 thrillers on two of the last three trips to the West Country outpost.

Albion clinched promotion from the Third Division under Micky Adams at Argyle. Hart has scored in a victory at Home Park and Knight has netted in his previous two apearances against Plymouth, so the omens are good.

All that will, of course, count for nothing tomorrow. The rivalry will not be as intense as when former Celtic forward McGhee used to lock horns with his Plymouth counterpart Bobby Williamson in Old Firm clashes, but the outcome could have an important bearing on the Championship survival hopes of both clubs.

"Bobby was a good midfield player for Rangers, a total contradiction to how he looks today!" McGhee said. "He was all energy, a bit like Alexis Nicolas, and he played up front as well.

"I think by next year he will be acclimatised to English football. Whatever is happening to him now will be a great learning curve for him next year if they stay up, in terms of what is required in this division.

"He's a guy who will quickly recognise and take the players he wants and needs at this level.

"They only lost 1-0 at Derby last Saturday and missed a penalty so they look hard to beat at the moment. I think it will be a very tough game.

"If we can get the team we want out there that will be great, if not then if we deny them the three points that will be good enough for us.

"Any better than that it will be a major result for us, the result of the season really."