Albion's first-year scholars are sporting bizarre barnets.

Chris Breech, Ben Fillery, Gary Elphick, Chris May, Ben Watson and Matt Piper all had their hair hacked off at the annual initiation ceremony conducted by the older players.

Youth manager Dean Wilkins said: "It boosts team spirit and helps the new players bed down. They sat there and took it. But we insist they wait until after the official photocall!"

A few of the hapless half-dozen will be involved when Albion under-19s start their season at QPR on Saturday.

The rest are likely to be in the under-17s squad which entertains Luton at University of Sussex (11am).

Wilkins said: "I've got a few injury problems and Adam Hinshelwood and Daniel Harding are likely to be with the first team."

He says Hinshelwood's impressive first team debut in the victory at Burnley has inspired his other youngsters.

"The boys are thrilled to bits for Adam and it made them believe they've got a chance."

Wilkins is confident other young players can follow Hinshelwood's example.

He said: "We have a lot of talent. I know Martin (Hinshelwood) will not hesitate to use any player he can trust. That's why he picked Adam. Shaun Wilkinson, Dean Hammond and Daniel Marney have graduated from our youth set-up to be part of the first team squad for the same reason.

"But my players have to earn that trust by showing consistency.

"The way we play football will help them make the transition. Our youth team has earned a reputation over the last three or four years for a passing game.

"The higher Albion go in the league the more that will be of benefit to them. Division One is not so much about the route one tactics you see in lower divisions."

Darren Budd (knee), Mark Windsor (hamstring) and Grant Vanson are trying to shake off injuries.