CHRIS COLEMAN will spend transfer-deadline day desperately trying to sign a striker, with his hand having been strengthened by Didier Ndong’s departure on a season-long loan to Watford.

Coleman watched his Sunderland side slip to 23rd position in the Championship table last night as they slumped to a 3-1 defeat at Birmingham City, but the Black Cats boss was at least able to celebrate some welcome success in the market.

Midfielder Ovie Ejaria has completed a loan move from Liverpool, and Sunderland are also close to finalising the permanent capture of Leeds United goalkeeper Andy Lonergan.

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However, Coleman remains desperate to sign a new forward before the transfer window swings shut at 11pm tonight, with Swansea’s Ollie McBurnie a potential target if the Welsh club complete the capture of Andre Ayew from West Ham.

While Ndong has only joined Watford on loan, his departure has nevertheless improved Coleman’s negotiating position as Sunderland have received a fee for the temporary transfer of their club-record signing.

The loan deal also includes a number of stipulations that will see Ndong complete a permanent move to Vicarage Road for around £8m in the summer if certain conditions are met in the remainder of the current campaign.

“Ndong has gone to Watford,” confirmed Coleman, after Bryan Oviedo’s late consolation at St Andrew’s followed Birmingham goals from David Davis, Jeremie Boga and Sam Gallagher. “He’s made it clear that he wanted to go back to the Premier League, and the deal suited us in the end.

“We’ll be bringing one in to replace him – a boy from Liverpool, Ovie Ejaria. He’s coming to us until the end of the season, which I’m very excited about.

“There’s another one (Lonergan) that’s not quite there yet. There’s a little way still to go, and it’s not over the line. We’ve still got one or two things to do there, but that said, hopefully that will go through in the next 24 hours.

“On top of that, we still need another face. With a bit of luck, it’ll be a bit of experience, but time will tell. It’s been a brutal transfer window for us, but then if we can get two or three faces before the end, it will have been a good one for us.”

Ejaria is a 20-year-old central midfielder who was a member of England’s Under-20 World Cup winning side last summer.

A highly-rated member of Liverpool’s academy set-up, he made eight senior appearances for the Anfield club last season but has not featured in Jurgen Klopp’s first team during the current campaign.

Klopp gave the green light for him to leave on loan yesterday morning, and he will be available to make his Sunderland debut in Saturday’s Championship home game with Ipswich.

His arrival bolsters Coleman’s midfield resources, but the Sunderland boss accepts he still desperately needs a striker before the transfer window closes.

Joel Asoro and Josh Maja led the line against Birmingham last night, but their inexperience and lack of physicality were glaringly apparent as they were repeatedly outmuscled and brushed aside.

“We’ve tried to do loan deals for strikers,” said Coleman.  “There’s one or two where we can’t because the price goes up and up and we just can’t do it with the situation we’re in, but there are others where we’ve tried to do loan deals with money.

“We’ve tried, but it hasn’t happened. But there’s still one or two options on the table that we’re trying to push through. Whether or not we get them in the end, I don’t know, but we do need it, we know that.

“It’s obvious we need a bit more physicality. You could see that tonight, although Birmingham are probably one of the biggest teams in the league. Physically, they are big and strong, but nevertheless we do need a bit more physicality and a bit more experience.”

Sunderland’s limitations were laid bare as Birmingham moved above them in the table courtesy of a comprehensive success.

Save for a brief flurry in the final ten minutes, the Black Cats were second best throughout, with Coleman branding their defending as “unacceptable” as they made mistakes that contributed to all three Birmingham goals.

“It was unacceptable, I can only use that word,” said the Sunderland boss. “That’s the word I have to use – unacceptable – when I look at those defensive errors. We can’t even begin to accept that.

“It was hugely disappointing. You win and you lose, we know that, but it was the manner of the first hour that was surprising considering where we are. There was a lack of intent in our play, all over the pitch, and that was a huge disappointment. It was worrying, also.”