SUNDERLAND have been told they need to act swiftly if they are to stop Charlton from landing long-term target Marcus Maddison.

The 26-year-old, a boyhood Black Cats fan having been born in County Durham, is on the verge of a move to the Addicks after Peterborough United accepted an offer for the creative forward.

Maddison is exactly the sort of talent that Sunderland have sought for months, dating back to when Jack Ross was in charge, but there was a reluctance to match the £2.5m release fee in his contract.

It is unclear whether Charlton have met that asking price, but whatever they have offered has been enough to get Peterborough to do business.

There has also been other interest in Maddison from the Championship, including from Middlesbrough, but they are believed to have been unwilling to meet the asking price too.

Sunderland manager Phil Parkinson is on the look-out for more new faces and is hoping to have more additions on board before Saturday’s trip to MK Dons.

He persuaded Kyle Lafferty to join until the end of the season on Friday, increasing his attacking options, and the Northern Ireland international will be available for the trip to Stadium MK.

Lafferty’s arrival has increased the chances of Parkinson moving players on, with Will Grigg and Marc McNulty the likeliest to leave. Grigg is attracting interest from Swindon and Salford, but his wages and the £4m asking price is likely to be a problem.

Sunderland are on the up after an impressive run of form, with a six-match unbeaten run lifting Parkinson’s side up the table. Saturday’s third win from four matches against Wycombe earned a play-off place again, and they are now just six points off the top two.

Defender Jordan Willis said: “Things are really starting to click on the pitch. You can see that with the results, and if you’re watching the game you can see everything is really coming together. We need to keep that going, keep improving, and not take our foot off the gas.

The Northern Echo: Sunderland players celebrate during their 4-0 win over Wycombe WanderersSunderland players celebrate during their 4-0 win over Wycombe Wanderers

“Who can play in a 4-0 win at home and not enjoy it with the fans cheering us on? It’s a great place to play. When you’ve got 30,000 fans cheering you on, there’s no better feeling out there performing for them and getting results like that.”

Parkinson was criticised when he first took over for a tendency to play defensive football but Sunderland have scored ten goals in their last four appearances, and they are creating plenty of chances too.

“There’s always things to improve on and that’s our job to work on on the training pitch and put that into practice in the games,” said Willis.

“We won’t take our foot off the gas at all thinking we’ve achieved anything because we haven’t. We have to keep working and improving and look back at the end of the season and say we are where we wanted to be.

“I think we’ve been showing it for quite a while on the footballing side of things. The performances have been good, the results might not have reflected that but that’s really starting to come together now. We’re taking our chances and keeping it tight at the back as well. It’s really improving, and we need to keep that going.”

Sunderland have looked much better playing with wing-backs playing on the front foot rather than as a defensive five-man unit, and Willis is certain the team can keep up the promotion surge – which has always been the target.

The former Coventry man said: “It’s definitely a combination of things. The spirit is very good within the dressing room, and the work rate is second to none. Everyone is working so hard on the pitch on and off the ball, and I think that’s showing in results.

“To be fair, in the defensive side of things it doesn’t really change too much because when one wing-back pushes on, the other comes around and almost fills in as a full back. Defensively, you kind of are still in a four. There’s little things when you might have to shift around a bit more, but I think it allows us to press a lot higher up the pitch and win the ball back.”