Suspended Melbourne Victory captain Kevin Muscat will not be rushed by the club into deciding whether he returns for the Asian Champions League (ACL).
While the eight-match suspension Muscat was handed on Thursday night ends his A-League season, and almost certainly his domestic career, it has no bearing on the ACL, which starts on March 1.
Muscat will continue his assistant coaching role for the remainder of Victory's domestic campaign, despite being barred from game-day involvement.
But football manager Gary Cole said while the captain was contracted for the Asian competition, he was yet to commit.
"There's been speculation this will be the end, that he'll retire straight away," Cole said on Friday.
"Kevin and the club have got some time now to consider his intentions moving forward.
"Hopefully from my perspective, from a football perspective, he'll want to stay on and play in the Asian Champions League."
Cole said the issue had taken a backseat while the club dealt with the furore stemming from Muscat's dreadful tackle which ended the season of Melbourne Heart youngster Adrian Zahra.
"This has obviously come out of the blue, it was unexpected for everyone, we spent the time this week dealing with that, not dealing with whether he's going to play in (the ACL) or not.
"He certainly won't be rushed into that."
Cole said while Muscat acknowledged he deserved his lengthy suspension, the wave of public and media vitriol that came with it had hit hard.
"His parents live in Melbourne, his kids live in Melbourne and all that goes on, so he has done it tough," he said.
"He's a tough hard man, but he's a man as well."
Cole said those within the club hoped what might be Muscat's final act in the sport would not have him remembered more as thug than footballer.
"The bloke's played around 600 professional games of football, 50 or 60 for his country at senior level and probably another 20 or 30 at junior level," he said.
"He's played as a defensive player all that time, he's probably made 15 tackles a game.
"So I haven't done the maths on that, but occasionally you're going to get one wrong.
"He's played the game in a very competitive manner all of his life, for people to judge him on this particular incident is tough.
"But he understands that's going to happen."