SUNDERLAND are increasingly confident of signing Antoine Semenyo on a season-long loan deal, and have also opened discussions with Nottingham Forest over Liam Bridcutt and Zac Clough.

However, Will Grigg is edging towards the Stadium of Light exit door, with Blackpool having offered the out-of-favour forward an opportunity to remain in League One.

The Black Cats have already added one player to their ranks this month, with Kyle Lafferty having signed a short-term deal to the end of the campaign, but Phil Parkinson remains keen to complete up to four more deals before the transfer window closes in just over a fortnight’s time.

He identified Semenyo as a leading target in the autumn, and has held a number of discussions with Bristol City officials about the 20-year-old, who has made just three Championship starts this season.

Bristol City boss Lee Johnson has confirmed his desire to loan out Semenyo, who signed a four-year deal with the Robins as recently as last summer, and both Sunderland and Doncaster Rovers are trying to push through a deal.

However, while Doncaster have requested Bristol City supplement a portion of Semenyo’s wages in the second half of the season, Sunderland officials have confirmed a willingness to take on the whole of the youngster’s pay package.

As a result, Parkinson is hopeful the forward will travel to Wearside in the next few days to undergo a medical and complete the formalities of a temporary switch.

The Sunderland boss has also discussed possible loan deals for Bridcutt and Clough, with the pair having been told they are free to leave their current employers, Nottingham Forest, this month.

Bridcutt, who spent two years as a Sunderland player between 2014-16, has just returned to the City Ground after spending the first half of the current campaign on loan at Bolton.

He was part of the Bolton side that held Sunderland to a goalless draw at the Stadium of Light on Boxing Day, playing at centre-half, and would provide some versatility and experience if he was to move to Wearside this month.

Clough played under Parkinson at Bolton, and has not been involved with Forest since appearing in an FA Cup tie at Hull City in January 2018.

A mobile forward who can play as either a central striker or a number ten, Clough, like Semenyo, is regarded as a different option to the attackers currently on Sunderland’s books.

Two of those attacking players could leave this month, with Grigg surplus to requirements despite only having joined Sunderland last January in a £4m move from Wigan Athletic and Marc McNulty pondering whether to cut short his loan deal from Reading in order to move elsewhere for the remainder of the season.

Grigg’s availability has led to a flurry of interest, with Swindon Town and Salford City both having contacted Sunderland officials to try to set up a loan deal last week. However, Grigg is understood to have been reluctant to step down to League Two and both suitors would struggle to put together a financial package that would be acceptable to both the Northern Ireland international and the hierarchy at Sunderland.

Blackpool’s interest is regarded as much more likely to result in a deal, with the Seasiders keen to add Grigg to their ranks as they look to reignite a promotion push that has faltered badly in the last month.

Blackpool boss Simon Grayson is a long-standing admirer of Grigg, who has scored just one league goal this season, and a move to Bloomfield Road would provide the 28-year-old with an opportunity to get his career back on track in the third tier.

However, Blackpool would still need Sunderland to pay a proportion of the striker’s wages, and it remains to be seen whether Black Cats owner Stewart Donald is willing to agree to such an arrangement.

Meanwhile, Elliott Dickman has revealed that Benji Kimpioka’s poor time-keeping means the youngster cannot even get into the starting line-up for the Under-23s.

Sunderland’s Under-23s suffered a 4-0 home defeat to West Brom on Monday night, with Kimpioka starting on the bench before coming on for the second half.

The 19-year-old, who has entered the final six months of his contract, has scored for the first team this season, but Dickman admits he needs to adopt a more professional approach if he is to realise his potential.

“Let’s just say he’s had an issue with time-keeping,” said the Under-23s boss, when asked about Kimpioka’s absence from his starting side. “There’s obviously a discipline that we have around the squad, and his time-keeping hasn’t been fantastic. That was his lesson tonight, the fact that he was late for training was why he was one of the subs.”