Paul Kitson is not the only Albion player dogged by back trouble this season.

It has been no laughing matter for the versatile teenager dubbed 'Tickle' by his team-mates.

Dan Harding, nicknamed after Mr Tickle because of his long legs and arms, has been frustrated by injury since forcing his way into first team contention in August.

Youth coach Dean Wilkins explained: "He's twice had a recurrence of a back problem which has slowed his progress. He has been told to carry on and if it plays up again they are going to investigate it a bit more."

Harding, who made his senior debut as a substitute against Norwich at Withdean, equalised from long range in a 1-1 draw for the under 19's against Gillingham at Ardingly last Saturday.

"It's been really frustrating for him because he has seen young lads get a chance and he may well have by now," said Wilkins. "He came on wide left against Norwich and has played leftback for the reserves.

"Being predominantly left-footed I know from experience you tend to get played in a wide area. I think his best position eventually could be in the middle of midfield, which is where he is playing for the under 19's.

"He is quite tall as well which is an advantage. You could play him at centre half and he is deceptively quick."

The under 19s, level with Brentford at the top of the table, will be without Nicky Bridle (ankle) for Saturday's trip to Portsmouth.

The under 17s are not in action after last Saturday's 2-0 at Gillingham, which kept them three points behind leaders Peterborough. Dean Cox and Kevin Keehan junior were the scorers.

Meanwhile, the funeral of long-serving former Albion kit man Jock Riddell will take place at Downs Crematorium next Tuesday (2.15).

Riddell, aged 66, lost a long battle against cancer last weekend.