LEE JOHNSON has suggested he would recall Elliot Embleton from his loan spell at Blackpool rather than allow the loanee to remain at Bloomfield Road if his temporary employers were to find themselves lining up against Sunderland in a play-off semi-final.

If the season was to end today, the Black Cats would be paired with Blackpool in a two-legged semi-final, having already played two games against the Seasiders in the last two weeks.

Embleton would not be eligible to play against Sunderland, with the play-offs having the same rules as the regular season, but he could remain as part of the Blackpool squad in case Neil Critchley’s side were to win and claim a place in the final.

That would put the 22-year-old in the somewhat awkward position of being a ‘spy in the camp’ though, and Johnson would be minded to recall him to Wearside, with his current loan deal only running to the end of the regular campaign.

“It’s not something I’ve really thought about, but my instinct at the moment is to say, ‘No, of course not, we’d pull him back’,” said the Sunderland boss. “He couldn’t play for them against us, although in theory he could play in a final if they were to beat us.

“He couldn’t come back and play for us. We couldn’t bring him back because once you get past March 22, then nobody who is not registered can be brought back in. If that was possible, then we’d probably think about it. Some clubs seem to make it possible (Peterborough signed an emergency goalkeeper last month) but not us.”

Conor McLaughlin is set to return to Sunderland’s squad at Plymouth tomorrow, having missed the last four matches after suffering a recurrence of a hernia problem.

Johnson had admitted that a couple of players are suffering knocks that would have seen them rested had Sunderland's play-off place been guaranteed.

Sunderland (probable, 4-3-3): Burge; Power, Wright, O’Nien, Hume; Scowen, Leadbitter, Winchester; Jones, Wyke, McGeady.