Brighton manager Gus Poyet believes his side's play-off chances could have been strengthened had Vicente Rodriguez been available all season.
The former Valencia winger helped set up goals for Inigo Calderon and Ashley Barnes as the Seagulls moved up to fourth place in the Championship standings with a 2-0 home victory over Derby.
Former Newcastle winger Kazenga LuaLua was also outstanding as Brighton extended their formidable home record. Poyet's men have now lost only one of their last 14 outings at The Amex, scoring in the last 10 and keeping a clean sheet in six of the last eight.
Poyet said: "Vicente has started in the last two games and he's getting fitter.
"I want him to play but I don't want to lose him - we want to keep him fit and if we do that we've got a great chance.
"Imagine if he had been fit for the whole season. Had he been, we could be 10 or 15 points better off."
Vicente almost capped a stunning display with a goal eight minutes from time when he fired against the bar following a dazzling run.
Poyet added: "The run and shot were unbelievable. Vicente is the best and we know that. He can go past people and make us win games."
The Uruguayan also spoke enthusiastically of LuaLua's performance, describing it as one of his best for Brighton.
He said: "I can't remember a better performance. He has had to wait for his chance, but this shows he can do it.
Poyet feels his side have run into form at the perfect time and believes his men deserve to have risen to fourth place, saying: "If we keep getting points it is up to us. The idea is to stay there until the last game, the last minute, and still have a chance."
Derby's loss was their first in six games and left them in 12th spot, seven points off the play-off places.
Manager Nigel Clough said: "Had we got a goal at any time during the game, it would have changed the whole complexion of the match.
"It was disappointing to concede the opening goal from a set-piece and some of the refereeing decisions went against us.
"But we had a go at the start of the second half and were punished for being a little bit open at the back."