Josh Maja ready to lead Sunderland line against Hull – as Cats continue search for new striker

Derby County striker Chris Martin
Derby County striker Chris Martin
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Sunderland’s search for new striking firepower continues, but Josh Maja is set to lead the line against Hull City.

The Black Cats could climb out of the Championship relegation zone with a win over Nigel Adkins’ side tomorrow, but they face a race against time to bolster their squad before then.

Sunderland are interested in Derby County and Scotland striker Chris Martin, who was made available for loan after the Rams secured the signing of Cameron Jerome earlier this week.

Manager Gary Rowett has confirmed that he expects the 29-year-old to leave this month, alongside former Black Cat Darren Bent.

He said: “The reality is that Chris Martin and Darren Bent, at some point in this window, will want to go and play football.

“I have spoken to those two players about it. They are in agreement with that and it will just be about seeing whether that interest (in them) becomes more concrete.

“We have got good attacking options, different attacking options, and we will probably lose some of those options I would imagine in this window.”

Reading are also understood to be interested in former Norwich frontman Martin.

Royals boss Jaap Stam was coy in discussing the potential move.

“Chris Martin has been mentioned and was also mentioned last season,” he said.

“He might be a possibility, but we need to be sure that if we bring someone in they can make a difference.

“I’m not going to say he is or isn’t the one, but we are looking at what we can do.”

Sunderland will miss out on the loan signing of Burnley centre-forward Jonathan Walters after the Irishman underwent surgery on a knee injury.

Walters will be out for six to eight weeks, ruling out any move.

Burnley manager Sean Dyche said: “He went to see a specialist with a tiny split in his cartilage. It’s not even a tear, it’s not serious, but has to be taken care of.

”They thought it best to keyhole it and deal with it.

”It’s the same knee he’s been building up, and it’s unfortunate for him and us, especially with the amount of injuries we’ve picked up.

“Usually it’s six to eight weeks out. It’s unlikely he’s going to go anywhere.”

Meanwhile, Hull City boss Adkins has had his forward options for tomorrow’s Sunderland crunch boosted by the return of former Manchester United youngster Will Keane.

The Tigers have won just one league game since the former Southampton boss took charge, but Keane’s return, after three Under-23 outings, has lifted spirits on Humberside.

Adkins said: “I’ve got Will Keane in the squad, he’s travelling and he has a good chance.

“He’s a talented footballer. I really like his attitude.”

“He feels good and he looks in good nick and like everything he has to get used to playing first-team games.”

Talented winger Kamil Grosicki is set for a late fitness test to determine whether he will be able take part in the clash.