SUNDERLAND transfer target Kevin Nisbet admits to being “flattered” by the Black Cats’ interest, but the Hibernian striker insists he will not be agitating for a move from Easter Road this month.

Sunderland return to action in the Papa John’s Trophy tomorrow evening, with a home tie against League Two Port Vale standing between them and a place in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Despite the demands of a packed fixture list, Lee Johnson insists he will be taking tomorrow's last-16 tie seriously, but as well as preparing for the visit of a Port Vale side currently sitting in 13th position in the fourth tier, Johnson has also been making inroads in the transfer market.

Carl Winchester became Johnson’s first signing as Black Cats boss on Sunday when he signed a two-and-a-half year deal to complete a switch from Forest Green, and he is likely to be followed by a new forward before the end of the month.

Johnson hinted at a desire to remodel his forward line in the wake of Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Hull City, and Sunderland officials have spoken to the Hibernian hierarchy to sound out the possibility of a deal for Nisbet.

The 23-year-old is the joint second-highest scorer in the Scottish Premier League this season with ten goals from 20 matches, and Hibs boss Jack Ross is understandably reluctant to lose him.

Given the need to stay within the salary-cap limits, a move for Nisbet would almost certainly be dependent on Sunderland moving at least one senior player out, but the in-form striker is adamant he will not be spending the rest of the month wondering about what might or might not happen.

“I’ve had it for the last two seasons,” said Nisbet, who was the subject of interest from both Hibs and Dundee United while playing with Dunfermline last January. “For me, I’m a Hibs player and that’s it really. Everything else is put to the side.

“I don’t really take much notice, to be honest. Obviously, when the window opens and you are a striker in form, scoring goals and performing well, then there’s obviously going to be interest. It’s flattering, but it’s purely Hibs.”

Nisbet’s ‘fox in the box’ style would provide an alternative option to that provided by either Charlie Wyke and Danny Graham, who are currently battling for the central attacking spot in Johnson’s first-choice side.

For now, the head coach’s immediate priority is tomorrow’s Papa John’s Trophy game, and while he will be making changes with half an eye on Saturday’s league trip to AFC Wimbledon, he will still be naming a strong side.

Chris Maguire and Elliot Embleton are likely to start after coming off the bench in Saturday’s draw with Hull, with Johnson especially keen to see what the latter is capable of now his injury issues are finally behind him.

“l feel like the players that haven’t had a chance are up to speed now, both in terms of their fitness and the tactics,” said the Sunderland boss. “We’ll have a look at a couple.

“Embo, for example, has been excellent in training, and there’s a couple of others as well that I’m keen to get in.

"It feels like it’s starting to come together. It feels like it’s happening, it really does, but the proof’s in the pudding and that will come with results.”