Explained: The League One loan rules that reveal whether Will Grigg and George Dobson can play for Sunderland in the play-offs
Sunderland are preparing for the League One play-offs – with a two-legged tie with Lincoln City quickly approaching.
And as Lee Johnson puts the finishing touches to his preparations for the first leg on Wednesday evening, many have wondered whether some of the Black Cats’ returning loanees will be able to feature in the clash.
Both Will Grigg and George Dobson have enjoyed successful loan spells away from the Stadium of Light in the second half of the season and are now set to return to Wearside.
Grigg netted eight times in 20 appearances for the Dons and earned a League One player of the month nomination in the process, while Dobson was a key part of the AFC Wimbledon side who pulled away from the bottom four and secured survival.
But can they feature in the play-offs? We take a look at the rules:
Can Will Grigg and George Dobson feature in the League One play-offs?
No, the duo will not be able to play for Sunderland in the play-offs – and there are a couple of reasons for this.
Firstly, loan deals generally run until the beginning of the next transfer window. This means that Grigg and Dobson will technically remain registered players at MK Dons and Wimbledon respectively until later in the summer.
The only way they could return to Sunderland prior to this point is if a recall clause was inserted into the deal.
However, even if such a clause was placed into the loan agreements then it would not necessarily mean that they could then go on and play for Sunderland against Lincoln City.
That’s because the League One registration deadline was on the fourth Thursday in March, meaning clubs cannot add to their squad lists after this point unless they receive special dispensation from the EFL – such as for an emergency goalkeeper, as we saw at Peterborough United.
So even if Dobson and Grigg were to return to Wearside, they could not be added to the squad list and therefore would not be eligible to feature.
So what next for the duo?
Both Dobson and Grigg remain under contract at the Stadium of Light.
So as things stand, the likelihood is that both players will return for pre-season training ahead of the 2021/22 season – unless a permanent exit, or another loan move, is secured prior to that point.
What about Elliot Embleton?
Blackpool boss Neil Critchley has already confirmed that Embleton will remain with Blackpool for the duration of their play-off push.
However, he will not be able to feature should the Seasiders face Sunderland in the play-off final.
“If we get Sunderland he obviously wouldn’t be allowed to play, so that would rule him out of those games,” explained Critchley, speaking to the Blackpool Gazette.
“They can’t recall him, the agreement is until the end of the play-offs, the end of May or the first week of June I believe.
“I don’t think there’s any clause in that to say Sunderland would recall him before then.”