Albion are coming to terms today with the retirement through illness of John Piercy, at the age of 25.

The utility player is hanging up his boots, only days after launching his first team comeback.

Piercy, like his father David, suffers from colitis, which is sapping his strength and energy.

He was substituted early in the second half of his first Championship start of the season in Saturday's 3-1 home defeat by Crewe.

Manager Mark McGhee said: "He's had a real go at trying to come back.

"The illness is just stopping him getting as fit as he needs to be.

"He's been thinking about it with his dad for some weeks, maybe months.

"He has realised no matter how hard he has tried it is setting him back all the time and he cannot get up to the fitness required.

"That has been the case for him for the last couple of years.

"Football wise on Saturday I thought he did allright. There is no doubting his ability to play at this level, but the illness is dragging him down and he always feels tired."

Albion will now come to a financial agreement with Piercy, who has a contract until the end of the season.

He is the third retirement blow for the Seagulls in the space of two months.

Dean Blackwell and Simon Rodger were both forced to quit because of serious knee injuries.

Meanwhile, physio Malcolm Stuart believes Adam Virgo has a better than even chance of returning to lead Albion's attack at West Ham on Saturday.

Virgo spent the weekend in bed after pulling out of the Crewe clash on Friday afternoon with severe swelling above his right ankle, caused by internal bleeding.

Stuart said: "There is significant improvement and the specialist has assured us it won't bleed again.

"He believes Virgs is 50-50 for the weekend, but there has been a massive improvement since Friday so I think his chances are a bit better than that. We are going to do what we can."

Goalkeeper Ben Roberts, on the bench for the first time this season against Crewe, continues his comeback from long-term back trouble in the Reserves at Luton tomorrow (2pm).