Can Sunderland sign free agents? The transfer rules explained after Ross Stewart injury

Sunderland have been rocked by the news that Ross Stewart and Dennis Cirkin are facing an extended spell on the sidelines.

Tony Mowbray’s preparations for the game against Middlesbrough were when talismanic striker Stewart was withdrawn in the warm-up, the Scot picked up a muscle injury while practicing his shooting.

To make matters worse, defender Cirkin was also withdrawn in the second half after pulling up with a hamstring issue. Surfaced suggesting that both players both have grade three tears.

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Stewart is set to be out for at least six weeks, Sunderland head coach Mowbray confirmed on Wednesday afternoon. There was better news on Dennis Cirkin, however, with Mowbray stating that the defender could return to Sunderland’s squad within a couple of weeks.

Tony Mowbray and Kristjaan Speakman

But what are the rules around signing players outside of the window and can Sunderland still sign free agent stars?

The transfer window slammed shut on September 1 for EFL and Premier League clubs. However, sides can still conclude deals for free agents after the period for trading players has ceased.

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That means Sunderland could still sign players who were free agents before the 11pm deadline should they identify a decent fit. Similarly, Sunderland can also loan players to National League clubs after the EFL and Premier League transfer deadline has passed.

The Black Cats are next in action against Millwall at the Stadium of Light on Saturday and then face a quick turnaround before Mowbray’s men travel to face Reading in the Championship the following Wednesday evening.