Emergency keeper for Lincoln City’s crucial play-off first leg

England Under-21 goalkeeper Josef Bursik could make his Lincoln debut in tonight’s (May 19) Sky Bet League One play-off semi-final first leg clash with Sunderland.

The Stoke keeper has joined Michael Appleton’s side on an emergency loan deal after Alex Palmer suffered a head injury in training.

Bursik is likely to slot straight into the side for what will be his fourth club of the season after making appearances for loan clubs Doncaster and Peterborough United, as well as parent club Stoke City.

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He started the season on loan at Doncaster, playing 10 games before being recalled by Stoke after injuries to regular keepers Adam Davies and Angus Gunn. He made 15 league appearances for the Championship side, keeping seven clean sheets and winning the club’s player of the month award for December.

Josef Bursik. Photo: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images.

He was then drafted in by Peterborough to cover the injury suffered by Christy Pym.

Posh used the same emergency loan rule that has allowed the Imps to complete his signature. A move that was criticised by several Sunderland fans as well as manager Lee Johnson

He said: “They’ve certainly signed a good goalkeeper, arguably better than the one that got injured.

“I don’t think their squad or their team will be short. Obviously my immediate focus is on Sunderland, and if I’m honest, I don’t know the ins and the outs there. I know the rules – and I would be very disappointed if any club in this division was able to wrangle the rules, whether that be a Covid situation or an emergency loan situation like this.

“Really, you just have to trust the EFL and the process of what’s gone on. What can I do about it? Whether it’s right or whether it’s wrong, I can’t go and sign a top centre-half, for example, and play him, so for us, it’s about maintaining focus on our solid performances and trying to build on those.”

Similarly, when asked about his side’s poor run of form in April, he responded by saying: “We can’t sign a loan player unfortunately, but we think we’ve got the personnel and we can play in a number of different games.”

Defender Adam Jackson returned from a hip flexor injury as a substitute in the 0-0 draw with AFC Wimbledon after six games on the sidelines, and he will be monitored for signs of any reaction.

Former Black Cats midfielder Liam Bridcutt played against the Dons after being rested for the midweek defeat at Charlton following his return from a calf problem, while strikers Brennan Johnson and Anthony Scully, who had been nursing minor knocks, were also involved.

Sunderland head coach Lee Johnson could have Tom Flanagan and Ross Stewart back among the fold for the trip to the LNER Stadium.

Central defender Flanagan has not played since suffering a foot injury during the Papa John’s Trophy final victory over Tranmere on March 14, while striker Stewart missed the 1-1 final-day draw with Northampton because of a hamstring problem, but both could be involved.

Midfielder Aiden McGeady has been battling a foot problem in recent weeks, but Johnson is confident he will be available.

However, he has admitted that two unnamed players will miss out, while defender Dion Sanderson was told he needed to rest a niggling back problem last month, when he was ruled out for the remainder of the campaign.