Simon Grayson believes an injury-free run for Calum Woods can see the defender become a key figure in the Preston North End squad.
Woods has started PNE’s last five games, showing his versatility by playing at both right-back and centre-half.
Against both Sheffield Wednesday and Cardiff, he moved into the middle during the action to cover the injuries to Paddy McCarthy and Tom Clarke.
In Tuesday night’s 3-0 win at Charlton, Woods played in a three-man defence with Bailey Wright and Greg Cunningham.
North End boss Grayson told the Evening Post: “Calum is good footballer and is ideal for any manager because he can play in different positions.
“The problem with Calum is that he has struggled to get a run of 10 to 15 games under his belt, both here and when I had him at Huddersfield.
“He has picked up niggling injuries which have got in the way of a good run in the team.
“When he plays, Calum is wholehearted and loves to challenge the opposition.
“Some of his injuries have been muscular but others have been contact ones because he doesn’t pull out of challenges.
“Calum has been showing us what he can do over the last few weeks in terms of playing in different positions.
“He was excellent with the other lads at the back against Charlton the other night.
“With him being two footed, he can play in either full-back position and is able to put crosses in from different angles.
“We are working closely on his fitness as we do with all the lads here.
“Their fitness is analysed and every player has their own programme which is in addition to the group training.”
Woods is a likely starter at Brighton today, a game which will see PNE play at the Amex Stadium for the first time.
Paul Huntington could come back into contention for a start in defence following his hamstring injury.
He played 20 minutes of the Charlton game as a sub and his fitness has been monitored in training over the last two days.
On the injury front, Grayson says that rest will hopefully be the best cure for the stress fracture of the shin suffered by winger Chris Humphrey.
He is having to sit out the next two months to help heal an injury which he had been carrying for some time without knowing so.
Said Grayson: “Chris was a bit sore but carried on playing and thought nothing of it.
“In the international break it was causing a bit more pain than previously so we sent him to get it checked out.
“Unfortunately for Chris it was found that he had this stress fracture.
“The surgeon said that if he played on with it and got another knock, it could become more severe.
“He has advised Chris to rest it and hopefully nature will take its course over the next two months.
“If that doesn’t work, an operation might be needed.”