SUNDERLAND will make a final attempt to sign Will Grigg in the next week, with Jack Ross claiming the club’s progress over the last six months has made it a much more attractive destination for potential recruits.

Wigan Athletic have rejected two offers for Grigg, who scored 19 goals in League One last season, but despite an ongoing interest in Reading striker Marc McNulty and Birmingham City forward Greg Stewart, the Northern Ireland international remains Sunderland’s main attacking target.

The Black Cats’ pursuit of Grigg is not related to the ongoing situation with Josh Maja, with Ross hinting his side’s leading goalscorer could return on loan even if he is sold this month.

Whatever happens with Maja, Ross is keen to land Grigg, and while he understands why some players might have been reluctant to join Sunderland in the summer given the amount of uncertainty that was swirling around Wearside, he claims it is much easier to sell the Black Cats’ strengths in the current transfer window.

“Rightly or wrongly, the reputation the club had in the summer, from a coaching, management and playing standpoint, was perhaps not as positive as it is now,” said Ross, who will take his side to Scunthorpe United tomorrow. “I do believe that, in the summer, there would have been uncertainty around what way the club was going to go.

“A lot of people wouldn't have known me from Adam, so they wouldn't have known if I was good, bad or indifferent, or where the club would go from here.

“We've had a reasonably positive six or seven months, and we’ve got an opportunity to get promoted with six, seven or eight other teams, so hopefully the reputation we have for how we do things has spread beyond these confines. That’s what happens in football, it’s a relatively small industry. By and large, there’s a positive outlook on this club now.”

Whether that is enough to persuade Grigg to leave Wigan remains to be seen, but Sunderland’s hopes of prising the 27-year-old from the DW Stadium have been boosted by the Latics’ decision to recall Devante Cole from Burton Albion.

Sunderland officials are expected to table a third offer shortly, and that is likely to be their final bid with the end of the transfer window now less than a fortnight away.

As well as trying to land Grigg, the Black Cats will also spend the next two weeks attempting to resolve Maja’s future.

The 20-year-old will return to the starting line-up at Scunthorpe, having recovered from the illness that kept him out of last weekend’s draw with Luton Town, but his long-term future is still uncertain.

Maja has rejected Sunderland’s offer of a new contract at the Stadium of Light, meaning he can leave as a free agent in the summer and is free to speak to interested overseas parties this month.

Celtic have a strong interest in acquiring his services, and his representatives have also had discussions with a number of clubs in the German Bundesliga, but while it would make financial sense for Sunderland to sell now, Ross remains extremely reluctant to lose the services of his leading scorer.

One compromise could be for Maja to be sold on the proviso that he is loaned back to the Black Cats for the remainder of the campaign, with Ross having benefited from a similar arrangement 12 months ago.

“It’s a potential option, and a potential solution if you like,” said the Sunderland boss. “If he did go, then we’d have to find a replacement at a time when we’re already trying to strengthen in that area.

“I’ve had a similar situation not that long ago with a young player called Lewis Morgan who signed for Celtic in January, but was loaned straight back to St Mirren. That was the perfect scenario for me at that juncture.

“Because of Josh’s age, and perhaps how any purchasing club would view him, that could be an option for us. But that’s all it is at the moment. It’s nothing that’s been discussed as more than a potential scenario because there’s been no concrete interest or discussion from other clubs.”

If Maja leaves this month and does not return on loan, Ross will be urging Sunderland’s owner, Stewart Donald, to sanction two new attacking arrivals.

“If Josh remains at the club, then we want to bring one in,” he said. “If Josh goes, then obviously that becomes two because we need to have enough attacking options. And by attacking options, I probably mean natural, out-and-out strikers.

“We’ve really played the whole season with Josh and Charlie (Wyke), coming back fit, as our only natural strikers. You could make an argument for a lot of the others being half wide players or half number tens. That remains a priority for us.”

One of those versatile forwards, Chris Maguire, had his dismissal for an alleged stamp in the closing stages of last weekend’s draw with Luton overturned, and Ross admits he may have benefited from Sunderland’s ongoing relationship with Netflix.

Most League One clubs only have their matches filmed by one static camera, but because Fulwell 73 are filming a follow-up to the popular series ‘Sunderland Til I Die’, which was released on Netflix in December, most of Sunderland’s games are recorded from a number of different angles.

Sunderland are understood to have included video footage in the appeal they submitted to an independent Football Association disciplinary committee, and Maguire’s red card was overturned as a result.

“His reaction after the game, and his first comment to me, was that he absolutely did not do anything wrong,” said Ross. “Now, a lot of players say that. But having watched it, it wasn’t what it was deemed to be by the officials.

“It’s a relief and I’m pleased for us. Maybe it’s one of the benefits of having Fulwell and Netflix around, you get different camera angles.”