Bruce out to keep the spirit
STEVE Bruce hopes that the international break will not scupper the momentum built by a succession of recent encouraging results for Sunderland. The Black Cats earned a point at home to Manchester United on Saturday, following draws at Liverpool and at home to Arsenal respectively a month after beating Manchester City at home. Bruce's side have lost one league game in seven, but the Premier League season takes a fortnight's rest for international games this coming weekend before Sunderland travel to Blackburn on the Monday evening. With the likes of Craig Gordon, Darren Bent, John Mensah and Asamoah Gyan all expected to be representing their countries, Bruce is hopeful that his players return injury- free. Bruce said: Maybe the international break is a distraction, but you just hope that they come back all right. We've got a longer break than normal because we don't play Blackburn until the Monday, so we hope they'll be OK.'' After encouraging performances against the so-called top five teams, Bruce is hoping that Sunderland can repeat their performances against what the former Wigan boss calls the bread and butter sides. He said: It is all right getting yourself prepared and up for the big games now we have to do it against the other teams in the league. But, the signs are looking decent and the way we have played pleased me enormously and we do that again we will be okay. Manchester United rested top scorer Dimitar Berbatov for their trip to the Stadium of Light, but were forced to introduce the Bulgarian into the fray after a first half dominated by the hosts. The belief in the Sunderland camp was that it was two points dropped as opposed to one point gained, but Bruce is satisfied with how the first part of the season has panned out. He said: I would have taken eight points from seven games with the teams we were playing and, overall, there is only West Brom where we let ourselves down. It is not often Man United have to change their system because of how well you are playing.'' However, Bruce is concerned that his young charges are not contributing with their fair share of goals, and like last season, are becoming over-reliant on Darren Bent. He said: If I'm being critical, everyone needs to chip in. Elmohamady has always scored goals in his career, when Jordan was a kid he scored lots, and Steed's always contributed with some. We can't keep relying on Benty and Gyan to score, but we'll try to keep improving.''
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