The Football League have confirmed that Port Vale have been placed under a transfer embargo.
Such an embargo is often placed on a club because of an unpaid bill, although this has yet to be confirmed by either Vale or the Football League.
Manager Micky Adams only discovered the ban on signing players when he tried to bring in a goalkeeper on loan on Thursday.
First-choice keeper Chris Neal will miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury and reserve stopper Ryan Boot is ill with suspected glandular fever, meaning Sam Johnson is the only fit goalkeeper at the League One club.
That means that 15-goal top scorer Tom Pope will go between the posts at Stevenage on Saturday if Johnson is injured during the game.
"Our immediate problem is our goalkeeping situation," said Adams at his pre-match press conference on Thursday.
"Chris Neal is injured and Ryan Boot has gone down ill. He has had some blood tests and we suspect it is probably glandular fever but we can't confirm that until tomorrow (Friday).
"The deadline is today and we have been on to the Football League about it and apparently we have a transfer embargo on us at this moment in time. I don't know why, so don't even ask me, but we can't add to the goalkeeping situation.
"What that effectively means is we will go down there with one goalkeeper and will have seven outfield players on the bench. Popey is a good goalkeeper, believe me."
Thursday is the last chance for clubs to sign players before the end of the season. However, a goalkeeping crisis is considered an exception to the rules, so Vale would be allowed to bring in a keeper next week if they settle the financial issue which has caused the embargo.