Chris Coleman admits the success of the January transfer window will play a huge part in Sunderland's survival hopes - and stressed loan deals are most likely.
There is little scope for cash-strapped Sunderland to spend money on new signings unless players are sold to free up funds.
Sunderland dropped back into the Championship relegation zone after the 1-0 defeat to rivals Barnsley at the Stadium of Light courtesy of an Ethan Pinnock header.
Coleman - who has revealed there are no deals "imminent" - has stressed January is a critical month for the club and is keen to add depth and quality if he can.
The priority is to add additional firepower up front with Coleman admitting there is a 'huge possibility' top scorer Lewis Grabban could be recalled by parent club Bournemouth.
"What we have to do is fatten squad up in numbers and add a bit of quality. If we bring that in on top of what we have then we will have a good chance," said Coleman.
"It will be an extremely important window for us, there is no escaping that.
"We can’t go and spend money on it, unless we lose players. It will be loans, we can still be cuter and smart and bring in faces."
Asked if Sunderland's fate hinges on how successful Coleman and SAFC are in the January transfer market, the Black Cats boss said: "Possibly. You talk about players out injured,
Duncan Watmore is out for the season, Jonny Williams another month or six weeks.
"Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong haven't been fit. Players we haven’t had. They have not been part of it anyway but they are still missing."
When asked if any deals were close, Coleman added: "Nothing imminent. We thought it was but it has slowed down a little, not because of us. We have been quite close but we haven’t got it over the line.
"If we sell someone depending on the sale, the price, then we maybe get some money to spend.
"We will look at two different fronts, loan deals, and if we get cash to spend then who can we spend that on? I will be more confident saying the new faces will be loan deals.
"January is a critical month. The next few weeks are huge, we would like to do business at start of January.
"Transfers being what they are that doesn’t always happen. It’s a worry. It is what it is. We have to get on with it.
"Boro next week, it’s not like we can rest four or five six players. But we have no one else to come in."
With Grabban currently out with a calf injury, Coleman handed James Vaughan a start in the 1-0 defeat to Barnsley.
Reports over the weekend suggest Wigan Athletic are tracking Vaughan, a £500,000 summer signing from Bury - but Coleman insists he couldn't let him go currently given his limited
options up front.
Coleman added: "Imagine we sold James Vaughan right now? Where do we go then? There will be interest in a few of our players. But we couldn’t at the minute let James go.
"We only have Josh Maja and Joel Asoro. That is an area we need to bring bodies in rather than lose anyone else."
Bournemouth have the option to recall 12-goal top scorer Grabban during a short window this month but Sunderland are yet to hear of the Cherries' intentions.
Coleman added: "I'm not quite sure, I don't know what will happen there. We haven't sent him back and Bournemouth haven't asked for him back.
"It is irrelevant at the minute because he is injured anyway. We know that there is a huge possibility that could happen hence speaking about James Vaughan on the back of that, that is
something we couldn't do."