Marton Fulop is expected to train with Manchester City today after the Premier League blocked the Champions League-chasing Blues from prising Joe Hart back from Birmingham.
The club approached league chiefs after injuries to Shay Given, Stuart Taylor and David Gonzalez, leaving Gunnar Nielsen as their only fit goalkeeper.
City asked whether they would be allowed to recall Hart, who is on a season-long loan at Birmingham, and have now been told that would not be acceptable – but that they would be allowed to sign Sunderland’s third-choice keeper Fulop as cover.
A Premier League statement read: “The Premier League can confirm that the board has given Manchester City FC permission to sign Marton Fulop on a temporary transfer in line with our rules regarding injuries to goalkeepers.”
It is understood that the Premier League board felt that allowing Hart, chosen as the goalkeeper in the Professional Footballers Association’s team of the year and a likely member of England’s World Cup squad, would be too much of an advantage to City in their battle for fourth place and qualification for the Champions League.
City’s main rivals for fourth spot, Tottenham and Aston Villa, have both been keeping a watchful eye on the situation while Birmingham have been talking about the possibility of compensation for any cut in prize money should they drop places in the league table if Hart were return to Eastlands.
The Premier League have been at pains to avoid any possibility of legal action by member clubs following Sheffield United’s successful challenge to West Ham over the Carlos Tevez affair.
The suggested solution of allowing Hungary international Fulop to move from Sunderland to Eastlands to act as cover would help City out of a sticky situation without giving them any significant advantage over their closest rivals, or put another Premier League side at a major disadvantage.
The next step is for City to lodge a formal request with the league to take Fulop on loan as an emergency measure.
City last night said they expected Fulop to join up with them for training today.
A statement from City said: “The club, with the backing of the Premier League, have been in contact throughout the day with both Birmingham City and Sunderland with regards to bringing either Joe Hart or Marton Fulop to the team on an emergency basis.
“Agreement has not been reached with Birmingham, but we anticipate that Marton Fulop will join us in training tomorrow and we sincerely thank him and Sunderland AFC for their help in this situation.”
Hart has been in superb form for Birmingham after making the temporary switch in his desire to play regular first-team football.
Given, whose arrival at Eastlands in January 2009 led to Hart losing his place, will be out for around three to four months after last weekend’s injury against Arsenal.
Nielsen, who is a Faroe Islands international, came on for the final 17 minutes in the 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium.