The obscure Premier League rule that prevented Sheffield United signing free agents after deadline

Sheffield United were prevented from adding free agents to their squad by an obscure Premier League rule surrounding their 25-man squad for the first half of their season.
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Paul Heckingbottom’s side were linked with free moves for Andre Ayew and goalkeeper Jed Steer, with further options explored in the free agent market aside from those two names. United signed Tom Davies after a spell without a club following his exit from Everton and Heckingbottom refused to rule out the possibility of adding further to his squad.

But an obscure Premier League rule prevents clubs from omitting players from their 25-man squad to leave space for potential additions. Players essentially must be named if they are over 21, even if they are injured, up to the 25-man limit.

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That saw injured players including Rhian Brewster, Rhys Norrington-Davies, Ben Osborn, John Fleck, Max Lowe, Ismaila Coulibaly named in the 25-man squad, when many fans thought some of the most long-term absences may be left out to accommodate a potential free agent signing.

Although the inclusion of long-term absentees Norrington-Davies and Brewster led to hopes amongst supporters that either may soon be on the comeback trail, boss Heckingbottom confirmed that neither are close to making a return. But both are “progressing”, he said, in their respective fitness bids after suffering serious hamstring issues last season.

John Egan, Will Osula and George Baldock have all returned from international duty with fitness issues, but Anel Ahmedhodzic is fit for this weekend’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur after missing Bosnia and Herzegovina’s games over the break with a hamstring injury.

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