There is no hiding Glenn Murray's importance to Albion.

He looks better than ever approaching his 35th year.

Murray will be crucial to Albion's hopes of gaining their first away point, or points, of the season at Southampton on Monday.

Just as he was at St Mary's in January, when a penalty earned a share of the spoils.

He has an enduring ability to make life uncomfortable for rival central defenders and to score goals.

A dozen of them in the Premier League last season helped Albion to survival.

Murray, free of the ankle trouble that hampered him a year ago, is already a quarter of the way to that tally after scoring against Manchester United and Fulham (twice) at the Amex.

He will remain a key figure once more, but Albion are not in Zaha territory.

Chris Hughton is right, they are not a one-man attack.

Southampton were the latest beneficiaries of the Wilfried rule. We all know by now how that works. If Zaha is not playing then Palace lose.

Hughton has pointed to the competition Murray faces from Jurgen Locadia (below) and Florin Andone.

The Argus: It It does not feel like much competition right now, but we are still in the early stages of another long and hard campaign amongst the elite.

It is far too soon to write off Locadia and Andone.

Let's deal with the Dutchman first. Locadia's performance as a centre-forward was hardly Murrayesque when Albion's reserves were knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Saints' second string at the Amex.

It rather typified his limited impact since arriving from PSV Eindhoven for £14 million at the start of the year.

There are mitigating factors. Signed with a hamstring injury, Locadia had to wait until deep into February for goalscoring debuts against Coventry in the FA Cup and in the Premier League as a substitute against Swansea.

Murray's rich vein of form at that juncture limited his game time. Leo Ulloa, re-signed on loan, suffered a similar fate.

A lively display against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup offered a glimpse of Locadia's capabilities, operating in wider areas.

After walk-on parts, valuable in a period of adjustment to a new club, new country, new league and different style of football, Locadia needed a strong pre-season to hit the ground running.

That, unfortunately, did not materialise. Another injury, sustained in the early friendly against AFC Wimbledon, disrupted his preparations.

It has been awkward for Locadia to establish any rhythmn or sharpness. He has only started consecutive matches once.

The longer Murray shines, the less likely it is that Locadia will get the game time he needs, but it is unfair to judge him until we have seen more of him on a more regular basis.

The Argus: It It is impossible to judge Andone (above), since we have yet to see him at all.

The Romanian, pursued by Albion across three transfer windows before finally landing him from Deportivo La Coruna for a knockdown price of £5.25 million, has been restricted by a groin problem to just 45 minutes behind closed doors in a pre-season friendly in Nice.

Although unlikely to score as frequently as Murray, Andone will offer Hughton a different dimension once he is available.

His mobility and capacity to stretch defences could be especially helpful in improving the modest away record.

Albion could do with a fit Andone and firing Locadia to ease the burden on Murray once the season gathers pace, especially in a hectic December after the stop-start pattern caused by the international breaks.