Asamoah Gyan and Sunderland prepare for life without Darren Bent

22 January 2011 11:35
Sunderland record signing Asamoah Gyan has been told to prove there is life without Darren Bent.

The Ghana international has been having all his muscles and jointsmassaged by club physios this week, in a bid to have him fully fit fortoday's tricky trip to Blackpool, their first without £24 milliondefector Bent.

And Mackem boss Steve Bruce has been massaging Gyan's ego as helooks to guide his only fit striker through one of the most challengingperiods of his career, and keep his side on the path to Europe.

Bent on success: Asamoah Gyan ready to spearhead the Sunderland attack

Gyan, who was signed at the end of the summer transfer window in a £13 million deal, has struggled with consistency since his arrival from Rennes.

But the star of Ghana's World Cup adventure has still scored seven goals to Bent's eight in the Barclays Premier League, including last week's dramatic injury-time equaliser against Newcastle.

Bruce, who has denied a rift between the pair was at the root of the England international's shock exit to Aston Villa, is convinced the BBC's African player of the year, is better suited to partnering Danny Welbeck, once the Manchester United striker has recovered from the knee injury which will keep him out for at least two months.

No worries: Bruce has no problem with playing a lone striker

Bruce said: `We are keeping Asa in cotton wool and massaging every bit of his body to make sure he's ok.

'Our best performance of the season was when Benty wasn't in the team at Chelsea, and that's not sour grapes. We want to draw a line under it now.

'Asamoah has played all his career as a lone striker for his country and his clubs. I've got no problem with him playing on his own. We'll see what we can bring in and what we can do. He has scored more goals than Bent from open play, and he's a good player. Now he's our only striker.

'It's very rare to come from another country and hit it off straight away. It takes time. Now we expect him to come to the table. He'll relish the responsibility, he likes that.

'Systems are systems and I'm not really a big tactician. Darren took more chances last year than this and he was prolific. He's missed them this time because the ratio of missed chances is higher.

'Welbeck suits Gyan better as a partner but I knew Bent and Gyan would get goals and that's why we're sixth in the league. If there was a problem between the two of them I would have seen it.'

The speed of Bent's departure left Bruce and his squad reeling and the Sunderland manager admitted he has had to do some soul-searching of his own this week, and lift his deflated players.

But mindful of their unexpected rise to sixth in the table, and the progress being made towards Europe, Bruce is determined to move on without the England striker.

He added: 'We have 15 games left. The squad have shown unbelievable resilience this season and they have to do again.

'We had 32 attempts on goal when we last played Blackpool. They're open and hopefully if we create half that number, the law of averages will tell you we'll take them.'

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 Explore more:People: Darren Bent, Steve Bruce, Danny Welbeck Places: Newcastle, United Kingdom, Ghana, Europe

Source: Daily_Mail