SUNDERLAND have tabled an increased offer for Wigan Athletic striker Will Grigg, and remain confident they will be able to prise the Northern Ireland international from the DW Stadium before the end of the transfer window.

The Black Cats’ initial attempt to sign Grigg was rejected last week, with Latics boss, Paul Cook, stating that he did not want to lose the 27-year-old.

However, with Grigg having been an unused substitute as Wigan beat Aston Villa at the weekend, Sunderland officials have made renewed contact with their counterparts in the North-West.

Sunderland have increased their initial offer, which is understood to have been around £250,000, and are hoping to receive a positive response from the Wigan hierarchy.

Grigg is keen to move to the Stadium of Light as he has become increasingly frustrated at his lack of involvement this season.

He has scored four goals in 18 Championship appearances, but boasts a proven track record at League One level, having scored 19 goals as Wigan won promotion from the third tier last season.

Sunderland are short of attacking options after Jerome Sinclair returned to his parent club, Watford, last week, with Jack Ross opting to bring the striker’s proposed season-long loan to a premature end.

Ross insists this month’s interest in Grigg is not related to the ongoing uncertainty over Josh Maja’s future, but having rejected the offer of a deal beyond the end of the season, there is still a chance Sunderland’s leading goalscorer could leave Wearside this month.

Maja missed last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Luton Town because of a stomach bug, but is expected to return to the side for Saturday’s trip to Scunthorpe United.

Even if Maja remains beyond the end of the transfer window, Ross will still be determined to add another striker to the ranks, with Grigg clearly his number one target.

The Sunderland boss has also been credited with an interest in Reading forward Marc McNulty and Birmingham City’s Greg Stewart, but as things stand, the pair are both well below Grigg on his wanted list.

“Charlie (Wyke) is our only number nine really,” said Ross, when asked about Sunderland’s ongoing search for a new striker. “Josh likes to play in those little areas, so I think we need another type where everyone would say, ‘He’s a definite striker’.

“You’ve seen the importance of that is recent weeks I think where we’re ahead in games or need to nick one, I think it would help us.”

While Sunderland’s attacking line-up remains a work in progress, Ross could not be happier with the player who has established himself as a clear first-choice at the opposite end of the field.

One of Ross’ first decisions on taking over at the Stadium of Light was the signing of Jon McLaughlin from Hearts, and the Scotland international has proved an extremely astute acquisition, with his goalkeeping performances helping keep Sunderland at the heart of the promotion race.

McLaughlin was especially impressive last weekend, making a string of saves as the Black Cats claimed a point against Luton.

“It’s a vital position to get right when you build a squad,” said Ross. “There are opinions on other areas and of course there are different units within a squad, but it’s really important to get the goalkeeper right.

“I was lucky that Craig (Samson), who is now part of my coaching staff here, fulfilled that role when I had a squad that won a championship in Scotland. He made saves at vital times that ultimately won us games.

“The identification and recruitment of a goalkeeper that we thought was right was important, and thankfully we have got that spot on.

Meanwhile, Sunderland have lodged an appeal against Chris Maguire’s dismissal in Saturday’s game. Maguire, who faces a three-match ban, was sent off for violent conduct after a challenge with Alan McCormack, but Ross is adamant the forward did not stamp on the Luton midfielder.