The Black Cats' need is pressing with Fraizer Campbell having left the club for Cardiff, Ji Dong-won having joined German side Augsburg on loan for the rest of the season and Louis Saha looking for pastures new after having his contract cancelled by mutual consent. Swansea's Danny Graham, who could line up against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night, is at the top of O'Neill's wish-list, and with time running down, efforts to plug the gaps in their front line are gathering pace ahead of Thursday's deadline. The Ulsterman has studiously declined to identify his targets for the January window, but asked if it was fair to assume his attacking resources are the main focus, he said:
"Of course, of course it is.
"There was always interest in Fraizer and we said we would prefer him not to go, if that was the case, until we had got someone else in.
"I felt this was a big opportunity for Fraizer. He didn't want to disappear and so I allowed him to go.
"But I am hopeful that something will develop for us. We have got a couple of days left and we are hoping ourselves that we can add somebody else to the squad if at all possible.
"We are still looking there because come February 1, that's it. But we will see what we can do.
"There are some days left here and we will try to do something about it. I am hopeful, but there's nothing guaranteed."
O'Neill's pursuit of Gateshead-born Graham has been well-documented, but the issue is complicated by Norwich's interest in the player, and the fact that Swansea are reportedly reluctant to sanction a move for him until they find a replacement. Former Black Cat Kenwyne Jones, currently plying his trade at Stoke, is understood to be in their sights. But as the club attempts to push home its interest in 27-year-old Graham, who has scored seven goals so far this season, there are contingency plans in place with the manager admitting he would rather not negotiate the second half of the season without strengthening his squad further. O'Neill said:
"No, I would like to try to improve it if we can. It's not always that easy, but we will try to do it.
"If we are left with this [squad], then we would have to try to manage it as best we can, but I am still hoping we can do something."
In the meantime, Sunderland will attempt to build upon an impressive run of form which has seen them win five of their last eight Barclays Premier League games to climb into 11th place in the table, nine points clear of the relegation zone. A disappointing FA Cup third round exit at the hands of npower Championship Bolton aside, that has provided them with a platform to look upwards rather than over their shoulders. O'Neill said:
"That's important for us now, we have got to try to, if we can, push on. The games coming up are very important for us.
"This game against Swansea and a couple of days later, we play Reading - these are all important matches.
"We have got some points on the board just recently, which is good. Now I want to try to press on if we can."
That may be easier said that done tomorrow night as Michael Laudrup's men arrive on Wearside still basking in the glow of their progression to the Capital One Cup final. O'Neill said:
"It's been an excellent season for them so far. They will start strong favourites against Bradford, despite their heroics.
"It just seems to have been a seamless transition from the manager [Brendan Rodgers] leaving to go to Liverpool to Laudrup coming in and doing exceptionally, so it's been good news for them all."