STEVE BRUCE plans one final push to land Tottenham striker Peter Crouch after receiving the go-ahead from Sunderland owner Ellis Short to strengthen his attacking ranks in the wake of a testing seven days.
Short is ready to give his boss support in the transfer market before Wednesday's transfer deadline after two defeats in a week that have exposed a lack of goalscoring options.
And now Bruce, who has been offered Roque Santa Cruz from Manchester City, hopes to secure two new players before the window shuts at 11pm on August 31, knowing he could still do with a left-winger and a striker.
Crouch has always been on his radar and Tottenham are prepared to let the England striker go, but there is fierce competition from Stoke City.
And with Liverpool close to pushing through a deal with Manchester City for Craig Bellamy, Bruce is ready to accept he is unlikely to secure a loan move for the former Newcastle United forward.
Bruce, who has expressed an interest in Tottenham duo Jermain Defoe and Niko Kranjcar, has also been considering a number of forwards on the continent, with Wolfsburg's Patrick Helmes and Freiburg's Papiss Cisse among those recently linked. Both, though, would command a fee and high wages.
But Bruce, who has endured a frustrating week after losing to rivals Newcastle United and then Brighton in the Carling Cup, is confident progress will be made on the transfer front in the coming days.
"Niall and Ellis are disappointed too but they understand what we are trying to do," said Bruce, who knows avoiding defeat at Swansea City today is crucial if his stock among sections of supporters is not to drop significantly further.
"There is a huge expectation after what we did in the summer, of course there is. We have not had a good start. OK. Why should we take knee-jerk reactions? Like finding my future questioned after two games? I find that very disappointing.
"We know we need more firepower so we have one or two irons in the fire and we hope they will come to fruition. We are not that naive. Of course we are aware we need more firepower. We are close to one or two things and that will help us."
Whether Bruce had been playing his cards more closely to his chest or not, things appear to have moved forward in the aftermath of two defeats which highlighted a lack of goalscoring threat.
The Black Cats boss has previously hinted he would not be able to bring any new players in until he has further reduced the wage bill, with the likes of Nyron Nosworthy and Matt Kilgallon crucial to that.
But Bruce, defending the decision to spend a little more than £10m on Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-Won, clearly thinks increasing his options before the end of the month is essential.
"We signed Ji and Connor and they have exceptional talent and given time they will be very good players for Sunderland," he said. "But I am not going to be derailed just because of a couple of bad results, and just throw them in at the deep end. Let's be fair, it could ruin them.
"We are hoping for one or two signings, one permanent, one loan. That has always been the case, nothing has changed. I have to balance the books as best I can but I have done that."
Bruce has been disgusted with some of the criticism hurled in his direction from sections of the media in the wake of the defeats to Newcastle and Brighton.
He is also experienced enough to realise the situation is unlikely to improve if he fails to oversee a first win soon, with this afternoon's trip to Swansea followed by the visit from Chelsea in a fortnight.
Bruce said: "Had results been the other way round, say we lost at Liverpool but drew with Newcastle, everyone would say, OK, the cup tie is disappointing, but there would not be this mass hysteria which has suddenly engulfed us.
"When we play football here in the North-East, it is part of it. Some of it has been unjust and unfair but you have to live with it. I know for a fact, we will not be derailed from what we are trying to achieve. We are just an inch away from it. We have the nucleus of a very good squad.
"It shows how difficult it is up here. Noone can convince me that Newcastle were far better than us. They weren't. We made a mistake for the goal an got punished. It engulfs you, after just two results, which I find disappointing.
"But you accept it and that is why loads of managers have sat here, struggled, because of what engulfs you straight-away. Thankfully I do not have a chairman or owner who has a knee jerk reaction."