Chris Coleman will not make any permanent additions this month, unless key assets are sold.
Even then, the Sunderland boss only expects to be able to invest a fraction of the money raised.
Coleman believes he will be able to bring in two or three loanees if none of his current squad leave, and indeed hopes to seal the first deal today.
Sunderland are hopeful that they could make a signing in time for the new arrival to feature at Middlesbrough in tomorrow’s FA Cup third round tie.
Coleman said: “I think we could bring in two or three [without offloading players].
“There’ve been occasions when you speak to the club and they say this is the deal and then it is, ‘also we want this if A,B,C.’ So you get so far and there’s a bit more, which can be frustrating.
“But we’ve got to be optimistic, and look at what we can do and be as pro-active as we can.
“Martin (Bain, chief executive) has always been honest with me. In our situation, when you know what could help us, but then you realise it is going to be non-runner because of the figures, that can be frustrating but I was expecting it.
“We’ve got players we could go for if players go out, but, at the moment, we’re concentrating on the loan deals we can afford and trying to get those done.
“It’s not a 100 per cent guarantee, but we are quite far down the line with a player and a club, and I am hoping that – fingers crossed – it could be the first of two, three or four new faces between now and the end of the transfer window.
“We’ll have to wait and see, but it will be nice to have a fresh face in to help the lads out and give us a bit of a boost, but we need two or three in really.
“If we do get a sum of money, I am not sitting here thinking I can go and spend it in this area or that area.
“I may get a slice of it, but any money that came in like that would be going elsewhere – although I am sure we will see a little bit of it.
“I’m positive the chairman will see that, in certain situations, we need some help.
“But we are certainly not looking at a case where if we got £10million for a player, we could go out and spend £10m – it will be nothing like that.”
Coleman is acutely aware of the need to break Sunderland’s cycle of depending on short-term fixes, a problem brought home by the current injury crisis engulfing his squad.
Nevertheless, he is under no illusions as to what he will able to do this month as he seeks to beat the Championship drop.
With a number of contracts expiring at the end of the season, it is then that the Black Cats boss will be able to look at a bigger rebuild.
He said: “Looking at it now, we need something that will help us between now and the end of the season.
“What we won’t be doing is making big mistakes, last-minute signings for millions of pounds that don’t work out.
“We haven’t got that.
“So any signings we make will go back to their clubs at the end of the season, unless something dramatic happens.
“That’s the state of play for us. There’s good and bad in that. The plus is that you don’t get stuck with anyone – I can guarantee that won’t happen.”