PHIL PARKINSON might have his sights set on strengthening Sunderland’s squad in the remaining eight days of the transfer window, but he does not want anything to have an adverse effect on the promotion charge.

Having secured the services of Bristol City defender Bailey Wright this week, and added experienced striker Kyle Lafferty to his ranks before that, the Black Cats boss still wants further additions before the deadline on January 31.

Another front-man is on the agenda, with Burton’s Liam Boyce and Wright’s City teammate Antonine Semenyo both under serious consideration should Sunderland be able to offload Will Grigg before the end of the month. Marc McNulty is also a possible departure with Hibernian keen.

Rangers midfielder Greg Docherty remains a target if a deal can be resurrected in the coming days, although Shrewsbury’s Oliver Norburn is the alternative midfield target and currently the subject of discussions between Wearside and Shropshire.

It would seem unlikely that there will be a further signing before Friday night’s visit of Doncaster, although there continues to be interest in Sunderland’s own men too. As well as Grigg, Blackburn are showing an interest in goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin.

Parkinson has been delighted with the recent run of form which has lifted them back into a play-off spot and to within six points of the top two. Doncaster, though, arrive at the Stadium of Light sitting in tenth and knowing it would be a big win for themselves should they spring a surprise on Sunderland.

After a tricky period for Sunderland on home turf, the convincing victories over Lincoln and then previous leaders Wycombe have eased the mood after the criticism of Parkinson on Boxing Day and should have made playing at the Stadium of Light more appealing to his players again.

“I think the home wins have felt big because obviously we had the Doncaster and Fleetwood games away, and to back that up we needed to put in a good home performance,” said Parkinson.

“Obviously only a small percentage of the supporters see you on your travels so it was crucial we played in the manner we did against Lincoln and Wycombe. We know we’ve got to continue it and that’s absolutely key. We’re not going to accept anything less in terms of effort and the desire which will be required at the weekend.”

Despite closing the gap on the top two and reigniting the promotion aim after a poor start to life under him, Parkinson will not be shifting focus. While knowing a return to the Championship has always been the goal for him, he is only taking things game by game.

“I think that short-term target over the Christmas period was can we get on a run to get us closer?” he said. “In the past, I’ve done blocks of games but at the moment I’m more focused on every game putting all of our energy into every single game.

“The target is each day we get the most out of the players on the training pitch, and the preparation is right for each game. We’re just really focused on that at the moment.”

His methods are certainly working with confidence running through the squad, arguably like at no other time this season even before his arrival and Jack Ross’ final few months in charge.

Whether he adds a new striker to his ranks next week remains to be seen, with Burton holding out for their asking price if they are to let Boyce go. Hearts, now managed by Daniel Stendel, have expressed an interest in him too.

“We need the right player - we can (afford to) pay for him and he wants to come,” said Stendel. “Then we would like that he signs for us. It’s not about numbers in that we need four or five players, but I hope we can sign one or two more.”

Burton boss Nigel Clough has admitted there has been offers for Boyce, with Hearts unnderstood to have made a firm move. 

Clough said: “There is still interest in Liam Boyce and we have had two bids which have been rejected.”

Sunderland’s teenage left-back Logan Pye, meanwhile, is set to join Premier League side Manchester United. Pye has shone for the under-18s this term and has attracted interest from Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea.