Albion goalkeeper Michel Kuipers is on course for the briefest of comebacks.

The Seagulls will make a late decision on the big Dutchman's availability for Saturday's FA Cup third round clash against Preston at Withdean - if it goes ahead.

Simon Royce is then poised to return between the posts in the following fixture at Wigan in the Second Division on January 12.

Boss Peter Taylor signed Royce on loan from his old club Leicester for a month after Kuipers pulled a thigh muscle in the pre-Christmas home draw against Chesterfield.

Royce kept a clean sheet on his debut at Queens Park Rangers on Boxing Day and saved a penalty in stoppage time at Blackpool last Saturday.

Leicester don't want the former Southend and Charlton custodian Cup-tied, which presents Taylor with a nice problem.

Royce is with Albion until the end of January and will be available for up to four more League games.

Taylor, 49 today, said: "It's a lovely situation. Simon got us out of a hole. If Michel comes through Saturday it means we can get his leg 100 per cent fit and I can put Simon back in then for the next game.

"I owe that to him and Leicester. If a Premiership club does you a favour you have got to play him."

Will Packham is on standby for his full debut on Saturday if Kuipers fails to recover, which explains why the youngster has been among the substitutes for the last couple of matches.

Taylor said: "I'm hoping Michel will be okay. The signs are good, but he hasn't kicked a ball yet and the kicking muscle is the problem. We won't allow him to kick until tomorrow.

"I will go with Will if not. That is why I've had him on the bench recently. I wanted him to get used to things."

Packham has made only one first team appearance so far, as a late replacement for Kuipers in Albion's penultimate match last season at Halifax after they had already wrapped up the Third Division title.

At the other end of the experience spectrum the Seagulls will be without Paul Rogers for both the Preston tie and the trip to his former club Wigan.

The experienced midfielder picked up a two-match suspension for his second red card of the season against Chesterfield.

Rogers was sent off against the Spireites for two bookable offences within minutes of coming on as a second half substitute.

Taylor's decision to recall him to the starting line-up at Loftus Road five days later was vindicated by the 36-year-old's influential displays against both QPR and Blackpool.

"He's been terrific," said Taylor. "We were really good in the first half against Blackpool and Paul definitely helped that.

"I brought him back in because I wanted us to play a bit more football. What happened to him against Chesterfield was a shame.

"He's been trying like mad to get back in and then he blew it, but I have got a lot of respect for Paul. He is a great pro."

It is partly for the same reason that Taylor is bringing in Junior Lewis on a three-month loan from Leicester.

"He is a footballer," Taylor said. "We were getting involved in the fight for promotion and everything was 100 miles per hour on and off the ball. I don't mind that off the ball, but on it we have got to calm down."

Taylor believes the adaptability and stature of the 6ft.2in Lewis will also make him a valuable acquisition.

He can play in a number of positions in defence and midfield and his height will be useful for set pieces.

The conundrum for Taylor is when to bring Lewis in.

He initially wanted him for the rest of the season, but players over the age of 23 are ineligible for a long-term loan. Taylor's current thinking is to have the player he has signed three times previously for Dover, Gillingham and Leicester for the last three months of the season, which would mean him making his debut at Chesterfield on January 21.

It could happen sooner if Albion run into injury or suspension problems before then.

Another less likely alternative is to delay the arrival of Lewis in case the Seagulls are involved in the play-offs. Several players are vying for Rogers' spot on Saturday.

Taylor added: "We've got Paul Brooker, who hasn't been starting, and people like Steve Melton.

"When he has been involved in the first team he has scored goals.

"That is something we are not doing enough of from midfield, although Nathan Jones got one the other day at Blackpool."

More Albion stuff at