Leeds United transfers: Old boy and former Rotherham United player re-signs as Leeds look to adhere to EFL rules

LEEDS UNITED have completed the signing of former goalkeeper Alex Cairns – who has joined for a six-figure fee from League Two outfit Salford City.

The 31-year-old Doncaster-born keeper has signed a two-year deal.

Cairns came through the ranks at Leeds and made his debut in the 2011-12 campaign.

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He had several loan spells out during his time at United, including had a short stint at Rotherham under ex-Whites head coach Neil Redfearn in 2016.

Alex Cairns, who has returned for a second spell at Leeds United. Picture courtesy of Leeds United AFC.Alex Cairns, who has returned for a second spell at Leeds United. Picture courtesy of Leeds United AFC.
Alex Cairns, who has returned for a second spell at Leeds United. Picture courtesy of Leeds United AFC.

Cairns established himself as number one at Fleetwood and spent seven full seasons at the Lancashire club, making 240 appearances in all competitions.

After a period on loan at Salford City in the 2022-23 campaign, he joined the club on a permanent basis and made 51 appearances for the club, including in every single league game for The Ammies.

He also started in the League Cup tie against Daniel Farke’s side.

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The signing of Cairns, who will serve as back-up to Illan Meslier, will take United’s number of designated ‘club developed players’ up to two due to the fact that he started his career at Leeds and is categorised as a player developed by the club because he had previously been at Leeds for three years before the age of 21.

EFL rules mean that clubs must name a minimum of one ‘club developed player’ and seven 'homegrown players’ in their submitted 25-man squad lists.

Players under the age of 21 are not allowed to be named on the squad list, but can all be used at any point.

On an EFL matchday team sheet, one ‘club developed player’ must be named in the team or on the bench with Leeds having just lost two such players who fitted into that criteria in Jamie Shackleton and Charlie Cresswell. The other ‘club developed player’ is Sam Byram.

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