SUNDERLAND have been told it will take in excess of £1m to land Doncaster Rovers’ prolific League One hot-shot John Marquis.

This week has seen Rovers persuade Black Cats full-back Reece James to move to the Keepmoat Stadium after just one year on Wearside.

And James’ departure has seen the two clubs have further discussions about the availability of Marquis, a long-term target of Sunderland.

The 27-year-old was targeted last summer only for the North-East club to eventually land Charlie Wyke after months of making offers on a number of fronts.

This summer has seen Sunderland make attempts to strengthen their attacking ranks, although Marquis is the main centre-forward target at this stage.

Sunderland have clearly identified the final third as an area where improvements need to be made, having relied so heavily on the trickery and creativity of Aiden McGeady after Josh Maja’s departure to Bordeaux in January.

Even though Will Grigg was drafted in for £4m to compensate for Maja’s exit, Ross’ squad needs additions – with a new striker on the agenda as well as targets to improve positions in the more supporting attacking roles.

Plymouth’s Freddie Ladapo remains another striker option and he is believed to be available at the cheaper £500,000 price after seeing his switch to Portsmouth breakdown.

Ladapo can also operate as a No 10 and that is another position where Sunderland are seeking a fresh face, having relied too heavily on midfielder George Honeyman over the last year.

Ayr United’s striker Lawrence Shankland is set to become a free agent at the end of this month and Sunderland are also known to want him.

Ross wants to make sure his squad does not fall short in any area next season having seen the promotion charge falter in the final few months of the campaign – leaving the club staring at a second successive campaign in the third tier for the first time in its history.

Bolton defender Harry Brockbank, who is also interesting Burnley and Championship clubs, is also on Sunderland’s radar even if the Trotters are aiming to keep the 20-year-old, and the same can be said of Rotherham following Sunderland’s interest in winger Jon Taylor.

But Marquis is the man Sunderland want most to boost the striker ranks and after another fruitful season, when he scored 26 times for Rovers, and Ross knows how important he could be.

Sunderland owner Stewart Donald is in the process of selling a large portion of his shares in the club to businessman Mark Campbell’s consortium.

Campbell is fronting a four-man group who will take control even if Donald and directors Juan Sartori and Charlie Methven will still retain a stake in Sunderland.

Once the takeover has gone through – and it has been hoped it would be ratified by the end of this week – there will be detailed discussions over the size of the budget available to improve the squad.

What is clear is that while there will be moves to add to the squad, particularly in the final third, there will also be players following left-back James out of the exit doors.

Donald does expect transfers to go through in the near future. He Tweeted: “Hopefully some signings soon but not today (Thursday) – won’t be long until new players arrive I’m sure.”

The former Eastleigh owner insists that the takeover will not mean his own departure because he insisted that he will be “here next season many beyond”.

Sunderland have already seen winger Lewis Morgan return to Celtic after his loan. Morgan is now understood to be interesting Panathinaikos.