SUNDERLAND have made a formal approach to Burnley in an attempt to set up a season-long loan deal for striker Jon Walters.

With Lewis Grabban having returned to Bournemouth, Chris Coleman is desperate to sign a new forward this month, and is hoping to push through a deal for Walters in the next few days.

The Sunderland boss has proposed a loan deal to the end of the season, with the potential for an agreement that could see the Black Cats commit to a permanent transfer in the summer provided they avoid relegation to League One.

Burnley officials are understood to be interested in a deal, with Sean Dyche having effectively declared the 34-year-old surplus to requirements, but it remains to be seen whether Walters will be willing to swap a position in the Premier League for a relegation scrap at the bottom of the second tier.

The Republic of Ireland international moved to Turf Moor in a £3m move from Stoke City in the summer, but has been unable to force his way into the first-team picture under Dyche.

He has not made a single Premier League start this season, with the most recent of his five senior appearances seeing him come off the bench in the 75th minute of Burnley’s FA Cup third-round defeat at Manchester City.

He finds himself behind Chris Wood, Sam Vokes, Ashley Barnes and even Nakhi Wells in Burnley’s attacking pecking order, and is known to be frustrated at his lack of game time given that he is in his mid-30s.

He is a close friend of Sunderland skipper John O’Shea thanks to the pair’s time together in the Republic of Ireland set-up, and Coleman will hope he can be persuaded to move to the Stadium of Light despite the Black Cats' struggles in the first half of the season.

The Sunderland boss has assessed a number of different attacking options in the last few days, with Derby’s Chris Martin also figuring prominently in his thoughts.

Martin is another player expected to move on this month, with Derby boss Gary Rowett having preferred to play David Nugent, Matej Vydra, Sam Winnall and Andreas Weimann in the first half of the season.

Martin rejoined Derby in the summer after spending last season on loan at Fulham, and is set to leave Pride Park on another temporary deal before the transfer window closes in two-and-a-half weeks’ time.

However, while Sunderland have expressed an interest in the 29-year-old, they would face competition from a number of their Championship rivals if they were to make a more formal approach. Reading have already held a number of discussions with Derby officials, and the Royals are understood to be willing to pay a sizeable loan fee.

Sunderland have also been linked with Sam Baldock, who is not currently getting a game with Brighton, and Lukas Nmecha, an academy forward with Manchester City.

As things stand, the Wearsiders’ attacking ranks are comprised of James Vaughan, Joel Asoro and Josh Maja, with the latter two players boasting a combined total of five senior starts.

The situation is hardly ideal, but another of the club’s young players is confident his fellow academy products are capable of taking the step up to the Championship in their stride.

“It’s not an easy time behind the scenes, with results and Grabbs leaving, he’s been on fire scoring loads of goals,” said Ethan Robson. “But I believe if we all stick together, we’ve got other strikers who can score goals as well.

“Joel and Maj have done great when they’ve been playing, and it gives the young players a bit of hope seeing them do well. We like to all play well as a team, and the younger players feel good when the likes of Joel and Maj play well – it gives us a bit of a lift.”

As well as looking to bring in new attacking recruits, Coleman has also spent the last few days preparing his squad for tomorrow’s trip to Cardiff City.

The game will mark Coleman’s first return to the Cardiff City Stadium since he left his job as manager of Wales, with the national side having played the majority of their games under the current Sunderland boss in the home of the Bluebirds.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Coleman, whose six years in charge of Wales featured a successful qualification for Euro 2016 in France. “Some of the best memories of my life are in that stadium, representing Wales, and some of my worst memories as well.

“When I first started, and because of the nature in which I got the job, some of my worst memories are also there, but it’s a super atmosphere and the biggest honour I’ve ever had. The success that followed was unprecedented, so to be a part of all of that was great.

“I’m looking forward to going back. I’m not expecting a big welcome from the Cardiff City fans being that I’m from down the road in Swansea, so that’ll be interesting. But the supporters were fantastic – that’s why we wouldn’t move to the Millennium, or Principality, Stadium. We wanted to stay there because the atmosphere we generated in that stadium was absolutely fabulous.”