SUNDERLAND have categorically refuted claims that goalkeeper Thorben Hoffmann was forced to play whilst testing positive for Covid-19.

The German shotstopper, who spent the last season on loan at the Stadium of Light, claimed that he had to play three games for the Black Cats despite a recent positive test and was forced to play whilst feeling unwell.

The 23-year-old wrote in a column with Bild: "At the turn of the yeear, I got infected and that changed everything. 

"When I came back after seven days of quarantine, I went straight back in goal - although the quick test was still slightly positive. I was playing with Corona!

"I played three games but felt worse game to game. I had dizziness and a stabbing heart, as well as shortness of breath. The adrenaline kept me pumping in the first game because I was happy to be back in goal.

"From the second game on, the symptoms became more severe. Hardly anything worked. I told the club management that I can't help the team at the moment and that I need to be examined more deeply. But that was taken the wrong way.

"There were no examinations of the heart and lungs after the infection. There were not even any more quick tests before the games. I wasn't physically well but the club wanted me to be tougher. I was really scared that something like happened to Alphonso Davies or Rune Jarstein (both had heart inflammation) could also happen to me."

The club have responded with a statement saying: “Sunderland AFC categorically refutes the allegations published earlier today by German newspaper Bild Sport.

“The report includes a number of false and inaccurate claims relating to Ron-Thorben Hoffmann and the Club has contacted the player’s representatives to clarify the comments made.

“SAFC complied with all Government and EFL guidance and protocols fully throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and continues to ensure the health and well-being of all staff is protected at all times.”