CHRIS COLEMAN remains confident of signing a striker and a goalkeeper on transfer-deadline day, but the Sunderland manager admits he has suffered a “brutal” month that has seen a succession of potential targets slip through his grasp.

Sunderland travel to Birmingham City for a crucial relegation battle this evening, but as well as preparing for tonight’s game at St Andrew’s, Coleman has spent the last few days trying to add to his squad.

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The Black Cats boss has ended his interest in Chris Martin, with the Derby forward having been reluctant to move to the Stadium of Light, but while he intends to field recent arrival Kazenga LuaLua as a central striker rather than a winger, he remains determined to sign another attacker before the transfer window closes at 11pm tomorrow.

Coleman is also keen to sign a new goalkeeper this month, with both Robbin Ruiter and Jason Steele having made a number of errors on his watch, and the Sunderland boss has made a formal inquiry for Leeds’ Andy Lonergan, with Middlesbrough’s Dimi Konstantopoulos an alternative option.

He has agreed the outline of a loan deal with a long-term target, but with the player’s parent club involved in a game this evening, there will be no movement until tomorrow morning at the earliest.

“We’re 99 per cent certain that there’ll be one between now and Wednesday,” said Coleman, whose side will move four points clear of their opponents if they win tonight. “Obviously there are games (this evening), so out of respect to the player and the club he’s at, there’s nothing more we can say.

“Everything is agreed, but that won’t happen until Wednesday morning, subject to medicals. I’m still hoping and praying it’ll be one more after that. We have to concentrate on Birmingham – that’s the priority of course – but then we’re trying to add in these last couple of days. I would imagine definitely one, and hopefully two.”

Coleman has signed Jake Clarke-Salter and LuaLua so far this month, but for every transfer success, there has been a catalogue of failures. The vast majority have not been Sunderland’s fault, with circumstances dictating that a number of potential moves came to nothing, even though Coleman and Martin Bain felt confident of a successful resolution was imminent.

Liverpool pulled the plug on Ben Woodburn’s proposed loan move to Wearside when Jurgen Klopp expressed concerns about a lack of cover in his own squad, while Jon Walters’ switch from Burnley collapsed when the striker sustained a knee injury that required an operation.

“The window has been really frustrating,” said Coleman. “We’ve been looking at it for weeks. Before the transfer window started, you’re doing your homework and trying to do preparation for what positions you’re going to go for and the personnel you want.

“Then you speak to people and ask who is going to be available, but unfortunately things change. We’ve been right there with more than two players where we think everything is done, but things have changed with the club we’ve been dealing with.

“Unfortunately then, things have changed for the player, and he can’t come. So we’ve had to start all over again. That’s happened more than two or three times, which is brutal to be honest with you. But it is what it is. We’re still fighting, and we’ve still got a bit of time where we can maybe add a bit of strength in depth.”

LuaLua’s arrival was confirmed on Thursday night, and while the 27-year-old spent the vast majority of his time at Brighton playing as a winger, Coleman intends to play him through the middle.

“Kaz ticks the boxes in what I want to see from players coming here,” he said. “He’s hungry, he needs to prove himself and he wants to be here. He’s an explosive player.

“People look at it and say, ‘We’ve got Callum and Aiden, so we’ve got wingers’, but I want Kaz to play down the middle for us in a two. That’s how I see him. He may have to do a job out wide if we don’t go with wing-backs, but I’ve really brought him here to play down the middle as a nine or a ten. He’s got pace and we need that threat in behind. Josh (Maja) and Joel (Asoro) need some support.”

There is still a chance Coleman could lose some of his players ahead of tomorrow’s deadline, although as things stand, there has be no formal offer for either Lamine Kone or Didier Ndong.

Ndong continues to interest Watford, although the departure of former Hornets boss Marco Silva changed the landscape at Vicarage Road and resulted in a reassessment of the Premier League club’s transfer plans.

Kone now looks likely to remain on Wearside until at least the summer, and having watched the centre-half come through an Under-23s game last week as he completes his recovery from injury, Coleman is confident he will be a valuable asset in the remainder of the campaign.

“I’ve not had one moment where he has caused me a problem,” he said. “He’s trained hard and been 100 per cent professional. He’s polite and he hasn’t missed a day’s training with the first-team squad.

“His discipline is fantastic, it’s no problem at all. Long before I arrived, he’s stated that he sees his future elsewhere, and that’s not a problem. But if he is here, I don’t see any problems with Lamine.”