AS Sunderland work behind-the-scenes to add the fourth signing of the January window, Phil Parkinson believes Stewart Donald deserves praise for the work that he has concluded already on that front.

Despite putting the club officially up for sale at the end of December having become frustrated with certain fans’ attitudes towards him, Donald has given the go-ahead for the Black Cats to bring in Kyle Lafferty, Bailey Wright and, most recently, Josh Scowen in.

The Sunderland owner is understood to be helping the club’s recruitment team to push for further signings too, knowing Parkinson is still looking for fresh faces to provide competition in the final third.

Rangers’ former Middlesbrough academy winger Jordan Jones is known to be in Sunderland’s sights, but there are alternatives in mind too. Bristol City striker Antoine Semenyo is another on the radar.

Whether Parkinson brings in more than one more before Friday’s 11pm deadline will be determined by whether Aiden McGeady heads away from the club, with talks continuing with interested parties.

But the Sunderland manager said: “I am very pleased with the lads we have got in. Kyle is a proven striker, for free, he’s played at a decent level, has that physicality and athleticism we were looking for. Josh and Bailey are both Championship standard players.

“We don’t want to disrupt the camp going into this busy period, but what we have done so far we are pleased with. The owner has done well getting the last two players in as well, because we have faced competition from Championship clubs. That is genuine, but Sunderland is an attractive proposition and the chairman and the board have done well to get those over the line.”

Sunderland secured the services of Scowen on Monday, which took many by surprise given Parkinson had also shown an interest in plenty of other midfielders like Blackburn’s Richie Smallwood, Shrewsbury’s Ollie Norburn and Rangers’ Greg Docherty.

Scowen, 26, will slot straight into contention for tonight’s trip to Tranmere, when Sunderland will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to nine matches.

“Josh is someone I have watched for a number of years,” said Parkinson. “He was at Wycombe and when he left Barnsley I tried to get him and he went to QPR.

“I like his winning mentality. He can pass it but he can press as well. We want to continue with that kind of energy and to do that you need players who are capable of playing in that manner.

“Players come in and it is a challenge. Josh can play that position further forward as well. When they come in you have to expect a challenge and you have to do everything you can to keep your shirt at a club like Sunderland. We have seen that in the last eight games.”

Sunderland will have Will Grigg missing tonight because of illness. He could still leave before the deadline with Blackpool and Salford known to be keen on ending his frustrating spell at the Stadium of Light.

Parkinson has had some positive news on promising midfielder Elliot Embleton’s problematic hamstring, though, and he clearly is a big admirer of the player’s ability.

He said: “He needs to get through the next week to two weeks. This time last week we were looking forward to having him back and then we thought we lost him. He is the clever footballer, in the Gooch and Maguire position. He can play with both feet, thread balls through. I have thought he has real quality since I came in and I am looking forward to working with him.”

Sunderland are in action at Prenton Park tonight and Parkinson is well aware of the criticism The Wirral pitch has received, and there was clearly still problems when Manchester United won there in the FA Cup. Temperatures today could make it hard for Sunderland.