JACK ROSS does not expect Sunderland to have another striker option available before Saturday’s promotion battle with Luton Town, after an offer was made for Northern Ireland’s Will Grigg.

The Black Cats boss didn’t discuss Grigg specifically but did concede he is on the look-out for another forward after it emerged this week a bid had been received by Wigan from Wearside.

Ross is searching for a new attacker after allowing Jerome Sinclair to return to Watford after an unsuccessful loan.

Grigg, has scored 83 times in his last four seasons at League One level so clearly ticks the box that Sunderland are looking for, with Ross feeling his squad are still short in that area.

Even though Josh Maja has been finding the net and Charlie Wyke is known for his centre-forward play, the Sunderland manager feels Grigg provides a different approach to leading the line than what he already has at his disposal.

“Probably in terms of the identification of areas of the park we need to strengthen in, defensively was one and in the attacking areas was the other,” said Ross, who has already signed Burnley defender Jimmy Dunne on loan.

“The reality is that this season, in the main, we’ve played without an out-and-out striker.

“Charlie’s return has helped us but even now you could probably make an argument that only Charlie and Josh are recognised strikers.

“The others are forward-going players, equally as comfortable in a wide area as behind the striker.

“I do feel that for the rest of the season we need another striker in that area of the pitch.”

Jerome Sinclair and Chris Maguire are alternative options through the middle, while versatile Duncan Watmore has been playing again after injury. He suffered a groin problem in the Checkatrade Trophy win over Newcastle’s Under-21s, so is being carefully treated.

Despite Sunderland’s offer for Grigg and their confidence in doing a deal after Wigan’s move for Anthony Pilkington, Ross was adamant “nothing was imminent” ahead of the visit of Luton.

But Ross is pleased to have secured the services of Dunne, 21, from Turf Moor to boost the promotion charge.

Ross said: “We were looking to strengthen defensive options. January is not an easy window for any manager, you are limited in what you can bring in. I wanted to come out stronger than how we went into it. Although Jimmy is a young player, he has enjoyed successful loan spells and that will serve him well.”

Ross also revealed he was not on the verge of losing any players either, but he expects that could change over the course of the last few weeks of the window.

Ross said: “There are no imminent outgoings. I am not in any rush to trim the squad. We feel we are OK.  “We have performed OK over the first half of the season. If anything we want to find one or two players we have mentioned. But if you strengthen, then players can feel they are further down the pecking order and that is something you have to deal with as month unfolds.”

One of those possible departures is still 15-goal Maja, even if there has been no progress on any interest in him that Sunderland are aware of.

He has signalled that he will not sign a new contract and is due to become a free agent in the summer, so could be speaking to overseas clubs now about a summer switch.  Sunderland are perfectly entitled to cash in now but Ross is just focused on using him to help the promotion charge for as long as he has him available.

“I take less notice of it now because I have so much going on,” said Ross. “I can understand why it has attracted attention.  “The only thing that is good is his attitude, and his performances in training have remained the same.  “Communication has been consistent and that’s all we can do until the situation changes in terms of him committing to a contract or the loss of him. I have to see how that unfolds over next few weeks.

“I have been pretty transparent. I never take it personally. We have a good relationship between manager and player. That helps if you are clear headed about it. As a coach or manager, your reaction can influence a young player. He is keeping a fairly a level head.”

Sunderland will face Luton on Saturday knowing the Wearside-born Mick Harford will be holding the managerial reins following the departure of Nathan Jones to Stoke City.

Jones has delivered sustained success at Kenilworth Road and his exit is a blow to the Hatters, who are sitting second in League One and striving for a Championship return after a long absence. It was Roy Keane's Sunderland that relegated them in 2007.

Harford has now been asked to take on caretaker responsibility while the search for Jones' replacement goes on, and ex-Portsmouth and Oxford manager Michael Appleton is the favourite for the post.

Ross does not think that Jones' move will have a massive effect on Luton's performance against Sunderland, when the two teams gunning for automatic promotion go head-to-head at the Stadium of Light. He will be interested to see how things develop there for the rest of the season.

The Sunderland manager said: “Nathan leaving doesn’t change a huge amount. The reality is they have had a style of play over the previous season and this season that has brought success, so I don’t envisage changes.  "If it was a new manager coming in on the back of a poor period you would expect changes. Nathan will have had a huge influence. They will come expecting to perform in a positive manner.  "We know the significance of it. It is another exciting game for us as a club to look forward to.

“It is difficult to predict how the players will react with out him. From a football perspective, they have a settled system, a squad that has been together a while.  "How much influence Nathan has on the group it is impossible for me to say, the acid test will be the remainder of the season. They will miss him as a club."