SIMON GRAYSON wants to identify January transfer targets for Martin Bain to work with sooner rather than later because he does not want things to be done last minute when the window is due to open.

A second meeting between the Black Cats manager and the chief executive was supposed to have taken place this week, only for it to be put on hold until after this afternoon’s visit of Bristol City.

But Grayson, who has already reached an agreement with Bain over what areas of his squad needs improving, is keen to sit down with his bosses again to determine a plan of action for the New Year.

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The Sunderland manager said: “We’ve not had our second meeting yet because Martin has been busy, but it’s all about planning for the future and what we need to do. We don’t want to be having meetings in the middle of December about who is available and targets.

“The bottom line is that we want to try to improve the squad. We will also do that with the players we have here because we have a good group with quality when all are available.

“Are there funds available? Time will tell in terms of how much but I think we’ve got a reasonable budget to deal with.

“Moving players in and out might be something we have to deal with as well. I think a lot of clubs will be doing business in January with players going out and that will free money to bring in new ones.”

Despite Sunderland’s lowly position in the Championship, they boast one of the biggest wage bills in the division. Grayson has, though, had to oversee a massive amount of changes since taking over and has had to alter the face of the squad even though he only spent a little over £1m.

He would like more money to spend in January, although that could be determined by the amount of cash brought in by player sales.

He does not have too many saleable assets either, with Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong two of those most likely to be available and capable of commanding a decent fee.

“Yes (it is difficult to offload players), probably because of the finances that come with it,” he said. “Our budget is probably in the top five or six in the division with players earning good money.

“Players who are not in the team or not playing much and want to move them around they will be on good money compared to other clubs, so that comes into it. It’s something you have to deal with.”

There are still nine weeks until the window opens and Grayson needs to improve Sunderland’s position in the relegation zone before he can seriously start to think about transfer negotiations.

Attracting new players will be difficult in the current climate and only yesterday former Bristol City and West Ham player Leroy Rosenior claimed players would now rather than head to Ashton Gate than Wearside.

Rosenior did go on to say Sunderland are a “magnificent” football club run “appallingly” over the last six years, but he clearly felt the “doom” had made the Robins a more attractive place to play now ahead of today’s meeting.

Grayson said: “I know Leroy's played for and managed Bristol City so he's going to be quite biased in that situation and everyone's entitled to their opinion, but I think we've still got a big football club with a lot of big attractions and reasons for coming.

“We know there are other sides to it that aren't quite as positive as a club like Bristol City or other clubs at this moment in time. We’re going through a tough period in time but that can change very quickly with results and other issues getting resolved as well.”

And Grayson, whose side are looking for only their second league win this season, is satisfied with how his recruitment has gone so far … even if he needs his players to start to win games.

He said: “I genuinely believe there are good characteristics in this group and it was shown last week at Brentford that we wanted to be brave and play and get on the ball. It’s all right talking about it before the game but they have to go out and put it into practice.

“When you're winning games everybody wants the ball, there's no negativity, everybody wants to be part of something but it's the real characters, the real leaders who in difficult times will say, 'give me the ball I want to make something happen to get us through this sticky game and affect the game.'

“Players at this club previously and many others will have gone through the experience of not wanting the ball because they've taken the safe option.

“Do they make a two or three-yard movement to receive the ball? If they're not confident they go and hide behind a defender and mark themselves. I've been there, done it and seen it all. Now we need to make things happen.”