What the EFL rules says about emergency goalkeeper loans - amid Thorben Hoffmann and Lee Burge absences for Sunderland

Sunderland have been unable to call upon two of their three senior goalkeepers in recent matches – with Thorben Hoffmann and Lee Burge sidelined for medical reasons.
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The Black Cats were waiting for the results of blood tests after Hoffmann missed the 2-1 defeat at Cheltenham last week, while the German was also absent during Saturday’s game at AFC Wimbledon.

Burge, meanwhile, has been unavailable since the start of the year as the club continue to monitor his recent heart issues, though it’s expected he’ll make a full recovery.

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As a result, Anthony Patterson has been recalled from a loan spell at Notts County and has started the Black Cats’ last two league games.

Sunderland goalkeeper Anthony Patterson playing against AFC Wimbledon.Sunderland goalkeeper Anthony Patterson playing against AFC Wimbledon.
Sunderland goalkeeper Anthony Patterson playing against AFC Wimbledon.

Under-23s goalkeeper Jacob Carney has been named on the bench but has made just one senior appearance for Sunderland in the Papa John’s Trophy.

Unlike in other positions, there are special rules in place that allow clubs to make a signing when they have no senior available goalkeepers.

Sunderland fans may remember that Lincoln were allowed to sign keeper Josef Bursik from Stoke before last season’s play-off first leg.

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The Black Cats would only be able to take advantage of the same rule if ‘all the professional goalkeepers at a club are unavailable,’ due to being unfit to play, suspension or international duty.

A ‘professional goalkeeper’ is classed as a player who has been named in the starting eleven on five or more occasions for a Premier League or EFL club in any competitions - excluding the Papa John’s Trophy.

That means Carney and fellow under-23s goalkeeper Jack McIntyre are not classed as professional goalkeepers.

If a club has no professional goalkeepers available and want to sign an emergency loan player, they must submit evidence surrounding the unavailability of their other keepers to the EFL.

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Rules state that medical evidence can’t be accepted from anyone connected to the club.

EFL regulations also say that all emergency loan deals ‘shall be for a period of seven days and may be renewed for seven days at a time’ depending on the situation.

Premier League clubs are not permitted to send goalkeepers on seven-day emergency loans into the EFL, while keepers that have been deemed unavailable can’t be named on a team sheet.

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