CHRIS COLEMAN admits Sunderland will be unable to hold on to Lewis Grabban in January if Bournemouth opt to trigger a recall clause in the striker’s loan deal.

Grabban signed a season-long loan agreement when he moved to the Stadium of Light in the summer, and while the Black Cats have struggled badly this season, the 29-year-old has performed superbly.

Sunderland’s leading scorer boasts ten goals from 14 Championship starts, and is joint third on the list of the Championship’s top goalscorers despite the Wearsiders’ position in the relegation zone.

However, his contract contains a clause enabling Bournemouth to recall him when the transfer window reopens at the start of January, and while the Cherries have no intention of adding him to their current first-team squad, they could opt to bring him back to the Vitality Stadium in order to sell him permanently.

Wolves and Fulham have investigated the possibility of signing Grabban on a permanent basis at the turn of the year, with other Championship clubs understood to be waiting in the wings as they monitor what Bournemouth are planning.

Coleman has already conceded he will have little or no money to spend in January, so if Grabban was to return to the south coast, it would effectively mean the end of his time on Wearside.

That would be a major blow to the Black Cats, with Aiden McGeady and George Honeyman the only other players to have scored more than one league goal this term.

Grabban has not been agitating for a move away from the Stadium of Light, but as Coleman admits, the striker could find that a decision over his future is taken out of his hands.

“They (Bournemouth) could recall him if they want to,” admitted the Black Cats boss, who will take charge of his first home game at the Stadium of Light tomorrow when Sunderland entertain Reading. “That is in the contract, there is nothing we could do about that.

“As far as I understand, there has been no indication that will be the case. I think I am correct in saying Lewis is happy here. He has done a very good job, scored good goals, very important goals, and he is very important to us.

“There is nothing we can do. There is a clause to say he can go back, but I have not been told by anyone there is an indication that is the case. It will be up to Bournemouth.

“As I sit here, I hope Lewis is here for the rest of the season of course, like any other Sunderland fan, and all the signs from the player are good. He enjoys his football, he has been scoring, and hopefully that will continue.”

Grabban will continue to lead the line as Sunderland look to record a first home win since last December tomorrow, but James Vaughan will not feature in the squad as he is suspended after picking up a fifth booking of the season for his goal celebration at Burton Albion last weekend.

Instead, 18-year-old Josh Maja is set to be promoted to the match-day squad after making a successful comeback from a knee injury in this week’s Under-23s game with Swansea City. Maja made a number of pre-season appearances this summer, but is yet to make his senior debut.

“Young Maja really needs more minutes with the (Under)-23s before we could consider him playing a significant role, although he’ll be in and around the squad, possibly on the bench, because we’ve got one or two missing,” said Coleman.

Marc Wilson and Darron Gibson should be available to face the Royals, but Sunderland continue to be without a number of long-term injury absentees.

“Marc trained this week with us,” said Coleman. “We gave him a bit of a hit, and he came through it okay. Darron didn’t train on Tuesday or Wednesday because we trained indoors due to the weather and not all players can train on that because of the reaction they get to working on astroturf.

“We’ve still got the long-termers such as Duncan, and Jonny Williams and Lamine Kone are both out for two or three months. Didier Ndong is probably out for another two or three weeks, and Jack Rodwell with his hamstring probably another week. Billy Jones will probably join in training again next week, which is encouraging.”