Former Sunderland midfielder Steed Malbranque is contemplating hanging up his boots, according to reports in France.
Malbranque only moved to French outfit St Etienne at the start of August after ending his three-year stay at the Stadium of Light.
The 31-year-old has made just one appearance as a substitute for Les Verts, but was not in the party which flew to Sochaux on Saturday night.
Manager Christophe Galtier said Malbranque was not in the right frame of mind to play, but there have been reports that the ex-Fulham and Spurs midfielder is considering retiring for non-sporting issues.
St Etienne are expected to make an announcement regarding Malbranque’s future this week.
But the speculation still comes as a major surprise after Malbranque’s return to his homeland had been thought to be ideal.
St Etienne is close to the former France U21 international’s family, while the transfer also offered the chance of securing his long-term future.
Malbranque was in the final 12 months of his contract at the Stadium of Light and was able to agree a two-year deal at St Etienne.