ANTHONY PATTERSON has joined National League side Notts County on loan, with Lee Johnson revealing he only allowed the youngster to head to Meadow Lane because Thorben Hoffman has made such a strong start to his Sunderland career.

Having stepped up to the first-team ranks during pre-season, Patterson was promoted to Sunderland’s starting line-up when Lee Burge suffered an injury during the warm-up ahead of last month’s league game with AFC Wimbledon.

The 21-year-old started against both Wimbledon and Wycombe, but found himself demoted to the role of third-choice goalkeeper when Hoffman arrived from Bayern Munich and Burge regained full fitness.

He played for the Under-23s at the start of the week, but has headed to Notts County, who are fourth in the National League table, in search of some regular first-team action.

“Anthony’s joined Notts County with a view to being involved in their game on Saturday,” confirmed Johnson. “He’s joined on a loan, and moving to the Conference, there’s the potential for it to be a short-term loan.

“Their guy has got injured, and it works well for us. It’s the level we wanted to put him at, and Notts County are obviously a big, historic club with a good stadium and fanbase. He’s a very good goalkeeper, so it’s a gift in one sense because he will do very well for them.”

While Patterson prepares to start for Notts County in tomorrow’s game at Altrincham, Hoffman is readying himself for what will be his third appearance in a Sunderland shirt when the Black Cats host Bolton at the Stadium of Light.

The 22-year-old had a slighty shaky start in the win over Accrington, but was much more impressive as he made a series of excellent saves in last weekend’s draw with Fleetwood Town, and Johnson has been delighted with the way he has adapted to life on Wearside since moving from Germany.

“I’ve been really pleased with the way he’s settled,” he said. “His general play has been very, very good and his persona has been outstanding.

“Both of the German lads have really thrown themselves into it with the rest of the lads and the culture, they haven’t been quiet sat in the corner. They’ve been opinionated and strong in their voice, and that’s been good.

“He was thrown into the first game after one day’s training with his centre-halves, so to see the full week’s training come to fruition in terms of his performance in the Fleetwood game just helps everybody settle.

“I think we’ve got a really strong goalkeeping department, I really do. I think we’ve got a lot of bright young talented goalkeepers in our ranks. The club has historically done well, and the fact that Patto has gone out on loan if great for him and for us.

“For him because we’ve talked about him getting those 25 starts to continue his development, and for us, in the long term, we really believe he can force his way into being a number one goalkeeper for us for a long time.”

Hoffman arrived on deadline-day along with his compatriot, Leon Dajaku, and Johnson has revealed it was the pursuit of the latter that paved the way for the signing of the former.

“Leon was the original that we courted,” he said. “We’ve known Leon for a while, and it was an English-based agent that effectively brought the opportunity for us. Sometimes, that happens. They’re agent-led names and then you use your previous knowledge or data to actually bring it.

“To be honest, we weren’t sure whether it was a reality. A lot of times, you’ll find these foreign players aren’t willing to drop to, in inverted commas, the third division at any standard. So, we had to impress the family first and foremost.

“The father came out with the agents to have a good look at the club, and then we had contact with the parent club to make sure they were happy for them to sign. Then you build from there.

“Leon came over, and there was a period of four or five weeks where obviously you’re asking questions to the player and the agents about other players in their squads that might potentially be available.

"Hoffman was one we knew, and then did a lot more research on. But certainly, the catalyst for it all was the Dajaku deal.”

Sunderland (probable, 4-3-3): Hoffman; Winchester, Flanagan, Doyle, Cirkin; Embleton, O’Nien, Neil; Gooch, Stewart, McGeady.