Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has played down fears that Darren Bent could miss the start of the new season.[LNB] The 26-year-old striker was forced to sit out the Black Cats' 2-0 defeat to Benfica on Wednesday, as they brought the curtain down on their pre-season tour of Portugal.[LNB]His absence sparked speculation that he was facing up to a lengthy spell on the sidelines.[LNB]That would be the last thing Sunderland need, as they rely heavily on Bent to provide them with a cutting edge.[LNB]He scored 25 goals in all competitions for the club last season, providing an instant return on the £10million it cost to lure him away from Tottenham.[LNB]Had he been forced to miss the start of the 2010/11 campaign, the Black Cats would have been lacking an attacking spark.[LNB]Bruce, though, is adamant that Bent was rested against Benfica as a precaution and is confident he will be ready to face Birmingham in their Premier League opener on 14th August.[LNB]"Darren's fine, but he's got a couple of minor niggles and it wasn't worth risking him," he said in the Sunderland Echo.[LNB]"The situation did at least allow us to experiment with a 4-5-1 formation and explore that.[LNB]"It was a good game and it has been a good trip."[LNB]Bruce also revealed that a slight knock picked up by his other leading marksman, Kenwyne Jones, is nothing to worry about.[LNB]He added: "He's twisted his knee a little, but he'll be fine."