Nicolas Anelka wants to retire - Clarke
West Bromwich Albion head coach Steve Clarke confirmed that striker Nicolas Anelka has told him he plans to quit the game following the sudden death of his agent.
The Hawthorns boss said that talks with the player so far had been "really negative" but stressed time would be given to him to rethink his decision.
Former France forward Anelka was given compassionate leave by the club to miss Saturday's Premier League match at Everton -- although he was set to miss the game through injury in any case -- and is reported to have cleared his locker at West Brom's training ground after telling the club he planned to retire.
"I'm not going to deny that that sort of language was used but we have given him time to think about it," said Clarke.
"He was really down. There was no big bust-up and he didn't storm out of the training ground. But the boy is upset and those thoughts can come in your mind.
"Nicolas lost a close friend over the weekend. He went to see [West Brom sporting and technical director] Richard Garlick yesterday and said he wasn't in a good place. We must give him a bit of time to think about it and get himself in a better place.
"The conversation was really negative but I'd like to think he can play again."
Anelka is thought to be the best-paid player Albion have ever had -- he's is on an estimated £50,000 a week -- and had approached the campaign well having scored seven times in pre-season.
He was subdued, like several of his team-mates, in the opening-day defeat at home to Southampton and has been under treatment since then following a kick received in the 1-0 loss.
Albion will inevitably consider how to best protect their large investment and would consider action if they don't have Anelka's services again.
But Clarke added: "Until we get to that stage, it's better not to talk about that. We hope to see him back.
"This (cooling off time) is the best course of action for Nicolas and the club. If you don't feel at your best, take some time out. We have given him a few days to himself. He had been fine but in life things happen that upset you."
Although he is without Anelka, Clarke does have Scott Sinclair pushing for inclusion at Goodison Park on Saturday after his arrival from Manchester City on loan, with a view to a permanent deal next summer.
"It has taken a number of weeks to get it finalised but he's so excited and enthusiastic about the challenge here at the club," Clarke said. "He's bright and a good addition.
"He's a pure winger who can create and score goals in the Premier League. I have a hungry player who had a couple of great seasons at Swansea and feels he didn't get the chances he deserved in his time at Manchester City.
"He feels after the big investment they made in him, they should have given him more opportunities to play. He has a point to prove that he is still the young player he was. He's desperate to play this weekend."
Sinclair has sparked front-page headlines in the past as well as back-page ones but the head coach described as "music to his ears" the player's insistence that he is looking for a quiet house in the country and not one in the city centre.
He is also still seeking another wide player and maybe another midfielder, and has been linked with Marseille midfielder Morgan Amalfitano, 28, and Austrian attacker Marko Arnautovic.
"We haven't been overactive and we have been underactive compared with other clubs," Clarke conceded. "Next week I hope to be busy. But we should remember that what we have is good. Nine of the 11 who beat Everton in the third weekend of last season may start this weekend."