Guy Butters today backed Dan Harding and the rest of Albion's young defenders to cope with the departure of captain Danny Cullip.

Cullip's move to Sheffield United leaves Butters, 35, as the wise man of the back four.

Leftback Harding, his place under threat after a series of mistakes, was 21 yesterday. Adam Hinshelwood, Butters' partner in the centre, does not reach that age until next month and Paul Reid, although 25, is still a novice at rightback.

Butters said: "People are saying Dan (Harding) is having a bit of a rough time, but what they fail to see are the runs he makes and the amount of effort he puts into every game.

"Hinsh alongside me has been outstanding all season and Reidy has settled into the rightback spot so, although I am the oldest, we have all got to muck in together."

Butters is not quite such a noisy influence as Cullip used to be.

"During the game I am talking to the players. I am vocal in that sense, but Danny was something else," he said.

"Everybody could hear him in the stadium and probably outside, but everyone is different.

"As long as I am getting it through to the other players and they can hear me then that is my priority."

The defence performed well as a unit without Cullip in last Friday's unfortunate 1-0 home defeat by Stoke.

Butters has taken encouragement from that display as he prepares to face his old club Gillingham.

"We played really well against Stoke. I've heard people say it's the best performance they have seen from us for a while but we have been doing quite well all season really.

"We've been playing some good teams and more than matched them for football. It's just unfortunate we haven't turned draws and 1-0 defeats into wins.

"There have been a few games this season where we have played really well, like against Burnley and Stoke, and ended up with no points.

"Sometimes in a game we might as well settle for a point, especially against teams down there with us, but I suppose that is not really our style.

"We want to go for the win. If we get the three points it opens up a bit of a gap."