Albion boss Dean Wilkins is worried about burning out some of his young players.

Dean Cox has suffered from second season syndrome, not quite reaching the same heights as he did in his debut campaign.

While injuries and selection have limited the appearances of others, like Joel Lynch and Tommy Fraser, Tommy Elphick has emerged as a regular in the centre of defence.

Wilkins is fearful of the draining effects the League One slog could have on his top prospects.

He said: "The thing that concerns me is that we don't over-use them and burn them out. We don't have the luxury at times of giving people a break.

"I know people on the outside think they are only playing football but the pressures that come with it, both physically and mentally, are enormous.

"You can only ever understand that if you have been out in that environment. We are constantly monitoring all the younger players.

"I have said before, maybe we over-played Dean Cox last year. It is not always easy to pull them out.

"In an ideal world you would do what people like Alex Ferguson does, puts them in and brings them out.

"They end up gaining confidence through actually watching games and learning through watching, as well as playing."

The testing trips to Nottingham Forest on Monday and Leeds next Saturday complete a hectic March in which Albion will have played nine matches in 29 days.

Wilkins' burnout fears will be eased by a Saturday to Saturday run-in, with the exception of a midweek visit next month to play-off rivals Southend.

Whether Ian Westlake will still be with the Seagulls by that stage is unclear. He cannot play against parent club Leeds and his loan spell is due to expire after the home game against doomed Port Vale on April 5.

He is not expected to figure in Leeds' plans and Albion had an agreement in principle to keep him for the rest of the season but the Yorkshiremen would be risking ridicule by allowing Westlake to stay. What if he scored the goal that clinched a play-off spot at their expense?

Westlake is, for the time being, just grateful to be playing regularly on the left side of Albion's midfield.

He said: "The level of ability in the squad is very high and it is young as well. The two centre backs (Elphick and Lynch) are two great players, ones Brighton want to hold on to.

"Up front there is another good partnership (between Nicky Forster and Glenn Murray) , full of goals and movement. Partnerships are important - you need people who can play well together. Those two and the back two are going to be vital in the run-in.

"The pressure is the same for me at Brighton as it was at Leeds. We put that pressure on ourselves, because we want to be in the play-offs."

While Westlake will be consigned to a watching brief at Elland Road, the prospect of playing in that match has caught the eye of his new loan colleague, Therry Racon from Charlton.

Racon said: "Before I signed I looked at the fixture list and saw the games. Everybody knows Leeds in France because it was a big club not so long ago. When I saw I could play against a team like that I was very excited."