Can Sunderland's loan stars play in League One play-offs? The rules on temporary transfers explained
With the regular season over for some of Sunderland's on-loan players, they are set to return to the Stadium of Light - but what do the rules say about their play-off prospects?
Who are out on loan?
Defender Lamine Kone is the highest profile of the players Sunderland shipped out this season. He has made 23 appearances in Ligue 1 with Strasbourg, but their season doesn't finish until the end of the month.
Others who went out on loan include England U20 international midfielder Elliot Embleton, who made 27 appearances in League Two for Grimsby Town, and striker Connor Shields who netted three times in 29 Scottish Championship appearances for Alloa Athletic.
Yet although their seasons are over at their temporary sides none can feature for the Black Cats in the play-offs.
What are the rules?
In past years, standard loans would finish on a specified date, usually the last day of the regular season, then their registration would revert to their parent club at once - meaning the player in question would be eligible to play in play-off games.
And other emergency loans were for 90 days, meaning that when they finished they could return to their parent club and go straight into the team, in theory.
Last season, however, a new system began and all loans extended right up until the next registration period begins.
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Essentially, the rule means no returning loan player can turn out for the team until the new transfer window opens.
The Football League’s player registration rules spells the situation out in black and white.
Regulation 53.1.4 states: “A player whose standard loan expires (or terminates) at the end of the season of the transferee club but prior to the completion of the league matches of his parent club (where it is a member club) will not be eligible to play in any remaining league matches in that season.”
So, Kone, Embleton, Shields and Robson won't be available to Ross for selection against Portsmouth and possibly beyond in the playoffs.
What about the players on loan at Sunderland?
The Black Cats have three players currently on temporary stays at the Stadium of Light.
They are forwards Lewis Morgan and Kazaiah Sterling and defender Jimmy Dunne will be available for selection.
All three will be eligible to play Portsmouth over the two legs, and a potential play-off final at Wembley.