ALBION'S hopes of having Danny Mills available for first team action have been dashed.

He faces exploratory keyhole surgery today and won't be in contention for his debut until next month.

Mills, signed from Barnet on a free transfer in the Summer, has yet to figure on the left side of midfield for the Seagulls after suffering the damage in the final pre-season friendly at Newcastle Town.

Physio Malcolm Stuart said: 'He's had an irritation for about three weeks. We think it may be a slight tear, which will put him out for a minimum of two weeks and a maximum of three.' The last thing boss Brian Horton needs with Albion next-to-bottom after three games is a casualty crisis, so he will be relieved that goalkeeper Mark Walton has survived an injury scare.

Walton hurt his jaw in a late collision with Brentford substitute Lloyd Owusu in Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Griffin Park.

An X-ray yesterday revealed no fracture and, although the jaw is still a bit swollen and sore, Stuart expects him to be fit for Saturday's visit by Torquay.

Skipper Gary Hobson, sidelined from the last three matches by a back injury, could make his comeback in the Reserves in their first home Combination game of the campaign against Wycombe at Worthing tomorrow night (7.0).

Paul Armstrong, unable to play so far due to a serious dead leg, has resumed full training but a specialist has advised Stuart Tuck to take things easy following close season groin surgery.

'I was quite worried about it,' Tuck admitted. 'But the specialist has told me there is nothing to worry about.

'I've been training really hard, so I've just got to slow myself down a bit and take a bit of a step back.' Horton is at Selhurst Park tonight to cast an eye over Torquay as they try to pull off a Worthington Cup upset against Crystal Palace.

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