Sunderland are assessing the fitness of Papy Djilobodji and taking legal advice after he finally ended his self-imposed exile.
The 29-year-old Senegal international had failed to turn up to training for 72 days as he looked to secure a move away from Wearside.
Having failed to do so he reported for training at the Academy of Light on Wednesday and his fitness levels are now being assessed having missed the entire pre-season programme.
He will not be training with the first team squad with Jack Ross keen to maintain the strong team spirit the Scot has helped build since arriving in the summer, with unbeaten Sunderland fourth in League One.
Djilobodji hasn't been getting paid while he was AWOL.
The Black Cats have now issued a statement confirming they are taking full legal advice regarding their next steps.
A club statement read: "Sunderland AFC would like to issue supporters with the following update on defender Papy Djilobodji.
"Papy Djilobodji has returned to the club, late and having missed pre-season and the opening month of the season proper.
"The club is taking legal advice on the situation, and the player has been undergoing fitness tests, to assess whether he has returned to the club in a state to play professional football.
"There will be no further comment until the player’s fitness has been assessed fully and the club has received full legal advice."
Executive director Charlie Methven added: "The club is considering its legal options.
“The two cases aren’t identical in that finally Papy Djilobodji has turned up, but nonetheless turning up in the first week of September rather than at the beginning of August in a fit condition to play, as was agreed.
“There is an internal procedure going on to determine whether he is fit to play.”
Black Cats boss Jack Ross said the matter would now stay in the hands of the club's ownership.
"Papy is back," Ross said.
"Beyond that, because of how the situation has developed and how it will probably continue to develop, it goes beyond me.
"I can't really comment on it other than to say that Stewart [Donald] and Charlie [Methven] have stressed that they'll be the only ones who comment on where his future lies and how it will develop for the club.
"We've said it often enough, a solution would have been best a long time ago and that still remains the case."
Didier Ndong remains AWOL and last night posted a pool-side picture on his Instagram story, a move which angered Sunderland fans.