Leeds United manager Neil Warnock says he has no fear of a goalkeeping crisis at Elland Road after allowing Paul Rachubka and Maik Taylor to leave the club on loan.
Warnock believes he has contingencies in place to see Leeds through the closing stages of the Championship season if current first choice Andy Lonergan is sidelined by injury or suspension.
The 63-year-old has maintained a tactical policy of naming no keeper on the bench throughout much of his managerial career, and the first four matchday squads chosen by him as Leeds boss included no specialist cover for Lonergan.
Warnock trimmed his options by allowing Rachubka to join Leyton Orient last weekend and has since sent Taylor to Millwall until the end of the season, leaving Alex Cairns as the only other professional keeper in United’s squad.
Defender Leigh Bromby, who missed recent games against Hull City and Middlesbrough through injury, is the outfield player who Leeds would turn to if Lonergan succumbs to injury or a red card during a game. Warnock previously relied on centre-back Phil Jagielka to deal with any emergencies during his time as manager of Sheffield United.
But Warnock will consider naming a keeper on the bench next season if the Football League decides to raise the number of substitutes permitted for league fixtures from five to seven.
“I just like the extra choice (of outfield players) and if it lets me down occasionally then so be it,” Warnock said.
“Bromby’s nearly fit now so that eliminates another problem.
“I’ve been quite fortunate over the years and Jagielka used to be man-of-the-match whenever he went in goal.
“There’s only five substitutes on the bench at the moment and if it was seven then who knows. I hear they’re trying to change it for next season and quite rightly so. It gives youngsters a better opportunity and you can have a goalkeeper on the bench too.”
Cairns took part in the warm-up before last weekend’s 2-0 victory at Middlesbrough and the 19-year-old has been on the fringes of United’s senior squad all season after signing his first professional contract last summer.
He was drafted in to make his senior debut for the second half of a 5-0 defeat to Blackpool in November, stepping up from the bench after a pitiful first-half display from Rachubka, and Warnock said: “He’s done quite well in training. If needs be we can play him.”
Warnock has allowed three players to leave United on loan since becoming manager – Rachubka, Taylor and winger Lloyd Sam who joined Notts County on Wednesday – and other departures are possible before the Football League’s emergency loan window closes next week.
Strikers Billy Paynter and Mikael Forssell and left-back Ben Parker are likely targets for rival clubs though Notts County manager Keith Curle revealed he had failed with an attempt to sign both Paynter and Forssell before landing Sam for the final weeks of their League One campaign.
“I spoke to Neil about Billy and Mikael, but he won’t let them out at the minute,” Curle said.
Paynter is understood to be reluctant to drop down from the Championship and looks likely to stay and fight for his place at Elland Road, and Forssell made his first appearance under Warnock as a second-half substitute at the Riverside last weekend.
Parker, meanwhile, spent a month on loan at Carlisle United in January and is rapidly approaching the end of his contract with United and the left-back’s prospects under Warnock diminished with the arrival of the vastly experienced Paul Robinson from Bolton Wanderers.
Warnock said: “There’s one or two could go out, but I just need to look at it next week.”