Paul Kitson is on the brink of a long-awaited return to Albion's starting line-up.

Boss Steve Coppell is poised to turn to the injury-plagued former West Ham marksman if Graham Barrett's goal drought continues.

Kitson steps up his comeback from back surgery with another run-out in the reserves against Bristol Rovers at Worthing tonight (7.0).

He will probably be on the bench again at Walsall on Saturday, but Coppell has revealed it may not be much longer before Kitson is playing a part from the start.

"If he comes through then he will be with us on Saturday," said Coppell. "I am not going to keep him in reserve for long that's for sure.

"I probably wouldn't start him on Saturday, but if we don't function as a goalscoring entity then the pressure is on. We have got to be more prolific.

"There are 24 games he hasn't played in and another 18 for him to make an impact, so he has got to contribute.

"He was signed specifically to play that role and there is no nice way of saying it, if Graham isn't scoring then I have got to try the option.

"It's the forwards I'm concerned about. At the very least I've got to give Kits his head.

"Graham has got to earn whatever he gets now. He has got to push on from here."

Kitson made the last of his four starts for the Seagulls on September 14. Former boss Martin Hinshelwood was banking on his partnership with Bobby Zamora but they have only been on the pitch together for seven minutes, at the end of Albion's last outing against Portsmouth.

Simon Rodger returns tonight from the secondary damage to a broken big toe which has sidelined him since the Boxing Day win at Norwich.

Dean Blackwell also continues his comeback from the hamstring injury which has ruled him out of the starting line-up since November 23.

Guy Butters (back) and Dean Hammond (groin) are both missing, while Shaun Wilkinson is still nursing a broken bone in a foot.

Will Packham is scheduled to play in goal, but Coppell will decide today whether he needs to draft in another keeper as emergency cover.

We revealed yesterday afternoon that Michel Kuipers' loan replacement Ben Roberts is struggling to be fit for Walsall due to gastric flu.

Albion Reserves (from): Packham; Hinshelwood, Rogers, Blackwell, Harding, Piercy, Hart, Pitcher, Rodger, Lee, McPhee, Kitson.

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