Lee Johnson insists Sunderland are still 'having conversations' about strengthening in the January transfer window - although he admits that 'spending a lot of money' this month is not an option.

Johnson has already brought in one new face in midfielder Carl Winchester but is keen to at least one more new signing this month, either on a loan deal or on a permanent basis, as he looks to increase his side's firepower to help the Black Cats mount a promotion challenge.

He said recently that Sunderland have been talking to players, agents, and clubs this month in a bid to line up deals, but since Winchester joined almost a fortnight ago there has been no more movement.

"We are still having conversations – it's not that we have all packed up and gone home as far as the January transfer window is concerned," said Johnson.

"What you do is get yourself in a position where one [deal] falls, and then it is like a domino effect.

"Something happens at the top, then it filters down and we become the top side in League One and we get the first pick of the draft on anyone who hasn’t quite made the Championship.

"Or, we go and sign someone on a permanent if we feel they have either a short-term or a long-term future here.

"But I don't think we have the option of spending a lot of money on a particular position, and we have just got to accept that."

Johnson says there are no deals imminent on Wearside, but he believes next week - he last full week of the window - will see a flurry of transfer activity throughout the leagues, and that could break the logjam.

He said: "There's nothing to say on it – there's nothing new to inform you about.

"I think it will start hotting up now in a number of ways.

"Players get edgy, agents get edgy – they are trying to feed their kids as well! If a player doesn't play for 20 minutes, they might be on the phone, then you find you can’t get that player.

"You have clubs trying to create headroom under the salary cap, you have financial fair play in different areas, the Covid pandemic which is causing clubs to haemorrhage money.

"I think this last week will be very interesting.

"I think there will not only be some bargains, but some good and bad deals done depending on whether people have rushed or done it correctly."

The window closes at 11pm on Monday, February 1, meaning Sunderland still have ten days to add new recruits, but Johnson is taking a relaxed view and if no more players arrive he will simply get the best out of his existing squad.

"I'm relaxed about it," he said.

"Every player you bring in has an effect, and if you get the wrong one, sometimes it can be negative.

"So you have to bring in a player who is good, someone who understands why you brought them in – sometimes you might bring in a high earner, other times you might bring someone in who will be ready in a couple of years – so you have to make sure the cohesion is right."