CHRIS COLEMAN will be pressing for an answer from Chris Martin when the Derby striker returns from a warm weather training camp in Dubai today as Sunderland look for the transfer boosts in the fight to beat the drop.

Even though young midfielder George Honeyman thinks there are signs of real progress in the battle to avoid relegation, there is an acceptance within the squad that new players are required to aid the survival push.

Martin has already spoken to Sunderland and Reading about the prospects of a loan move and is believed to have wanted to head away with the Rams to the Middle East to weigh up his options. Derby would still prefer him to go on an 18-month loan if they can’t sell him permanently.

Sunderland have a free weekend because of their FA Cup exit and travel to Birmingham on Tuesday, with the hope they will have at least one more new arrival in place before that trip.

Ideally, with the transfer window due to close the following day, Coleman will make huge progress in the next few days after only signing Jake Clarke-Salter so far. He has suffered disappointment in his pursuits of Liverpool’s Ben Woodburn and Burnley’s Jon Walters.

Sunderland gave their fight to stay up a shot in the arm by winning at home to Hull on Saturday, when teenager Joel Asoro struck the first half winner.

Honeyman, one of five academy graduates on show for the Black Cats, is satisfied the team is heading in the right direction under Coleman – even if there is a shortage of options.

The 23-year-old said: “We have had a couple of bad afternoons, but if you look at it as a whole then we are in our best part of the season. I think our game against Hull was arguably our best performance of the season.

“Keeping five clean sheets in 11 games is massive, considering we didn't have any clean sheets before that. The manager held a meeting last week and showed us lots of stats, and you could see there is a definite improvement. It's things like that that show us we are on the right track, and starting to progress up the league.

“Since the manager came in, he has focused a lot on the defence, and he has brought in a new formation. I think the next step is to get up the pitch better, keep the ball better in the opposition's half.

“I think we did that better on Saturday and we will have had quite a bit of training time between that match and the next one, so hopefully we will be even better when we go to Birmingham.”

Honeyman has played more football in the Sunderland squad than any other player this season; a sign of the times having had to wait so long for his chance in the first team. He has, though, not let anyone down and his determined and positive approach is what Coleman wants to be reflected across his squad.

Honeyman said: “The position is not where I want to see the club, but personally-wise because of the lack of players and injuries it has helped me play a lot of games. If someone told me a year ago I would have played this much I’d have laughed.

“I would love the club to be doing better but to be playing as often as I am I am delighted because I have been striving for this almost all my life.

“A lot of it is surreal. To have played the most games, I am really honoured. At the start of the season my goal was to just stay in the team, I want the team to be doing better and I am sure that will happen, but personally I want the second half to go as well as the first from a playing point of view.”

But Honeyman is confident that the younger players in the squad can have a massing bearing on keeping Sunderland in the Championship.

He said: “If you don’t think that then we are already struggling. There is a belief we are better than where we are in the table. Performances and results have picked up with the new manager.

“We are adapting still to the way he wants to play, we have five clean sheets in 11 and we hadn’t got any before that, so we are improving and we are confident we can get out of this.”