Albion will play the last six matches of the season without their skipper and leading League One goalscorer Dean Hammond.

The influential midfielder is having surgery on the double hernia he has been carrying since before Christmas after suffering a recurrence of hamstring trouble in training.

Hammond was ruled out of last Saturday's 2-0 win at Northampton. A scan on his hamstring injury revealed a strain rather than a tear and he was expected to be fit for Doncaster's visit tomorrow until pulling up in training again yesterday morning.

Boss Dean Wilkins admits Hammond, who has scored eight of his 11 goals this season in the League, will be sorely missed.

"He has been a major influence," Wilkins said. "His goals have been invaluable. As the season has worn on he has taken the responsibility of being captain on board and led by example on many occasions."

Adam El-Abd played in midfield at Northampton in Hammond's absence and could deputise again tomorrow, although Wilkins will use the Easter matches against Doncaster and at Tranmere on Monday to give some of the fringe players and those fighting for new contracts a chance.

"We anticipate making a few changes to try to keep the team as fresh as possible for both games," he said.

"It is no coincidence that the fringe players' performances have improved with playing regularly in the reserves.

"Now is the time to give one or two a game. It is only fair to try and make judgements on people from first team games as to whether you feel they are able to make the step to that next level."

Albion have drawn four of their last six matches at Withdean, as well as beating Nottingham Forest and losing to Bristol City.

Wilkins said: "We really want to try and finish strongly at home, because we feel we have under-achieved with results.

"It is no good having the performances if you do not turn the draws into wins."

Meanwhile, Wilkins expects to resolve his future by next week after Albion announced they have offered him a "long-term" contract to replace his existing deal which expires in June.

"I think everybody knows my passion for the club and where I want to ty and take the club, so we are talking at the moment," he said.

"Discussions sometimes take longer than others but hopefully by next week we will have some news."