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Bruce hoping to sign off German tour with win
Published : 23 Jul 2011 09:00:00
SUNDERLAND boss Steve Bruce is hoping his side can end their pre-season tour of Germany on a high when they take on Borussia Monchengladbach today. The Black Cats play their third and final game before returning to Wearside, where they will hope to record their first win since arriving in Germany last week. Their opening game ended in a 1-1 draw against Arminia Bielefeld, before Bruce's men went down 3-1 to Hannover 96 on Wednesday. With nine new players having come through the door at the Stadium of Light during the close-season, the tour of Germany has played a big part in allowing the new arrivals to get to know their new team-mates. And despite results not going in their favour, Bruce believes the tour has been a huge success in terms of players improving their fitness ahead of the opening weekend of the Premier League in three weeks' time. He said: "This tour has been a fantastic exercise for us and we're looking to end on a high. Fitness remains our priority, but it would be nice to round things off with a win and kick on strongly into our remaining friendlies in the UK. "With the numbers available to me I will be able to mix and match. Monchengladbach are a strong team - you have to be to survive in the Bundesliga. "From what I know there's going to be a big crowd there and it should be a fantastic occasion for both sets of players." Black Cats boss has also revealed he will stick with the 4-4-1-1 system he has been using during pre-season when the Premier League kicks off on August 13. Rather than deploy two out-and-out strikers, Bruce has preferred to use the formation with one man playing in the hole behind the lone striker. Benin international Stephane Sessegnon has impressed in that role behind the striker - scoring twice from that position already in pre-season - and he is expected to hold down that role when the season starts. Bruce believes the system offers more protection to his defence and believes it will suit the likes of Sessegnon and Asamoah Gyan, who is expected to make his first pre-season appearance against Kilmarnock on Wednesday. Sunderland's ticket allocation for Ritchie Humphreys' testimonial game with Hartlepool at Victoria Park a week on Tuesday has been sold out. However, the testimonial committee are working with the club and police to increase the allocation. Sunderland youngster John Egan skippered Republic of Ireland's Under-19 team to a 2-1 win in the European Championships against Greece.