Fulop heading for Sunderland exit
STEVE BRUCE intends to replace Marton Fulop with a younger deputy goalkeeper in the summer after admitting the Hungarian has conceded defeat in his battle to be Sunderland's No 1. Bruce revealed yesterday that he will be more than happy to move Fulop on in the summer after witnessing Craig Gordon establish himself as the Black Cats' undisputed first-choice in recent months. The Sunderland manager's comments arrived just 24 hours after Gordon was unbeatable in training and it is now a formality that Fulop departs at the end of the season provided the right offer comes along. Huddersfield's Alex Smithies and Coventry's former Carlisle shot-stopper Kieran Westwood are in his thinking, although Bruce is also satisfied with the progress being made by current second choice Trevor Carson. The crucial factor, however, is the form of Gordon and Bruce has been convinced since the player's return from a three-month lay-off with a broken arm that the Scotland No 1 possesses all the attributes to be one of the best around. Craig has come back and looked the real deal and is playing extremely well of late, said Bruce, recalling the £9m man's match-saving display against Manchester City last Sunday. He is a calming influence on the defence. He is one of those keepers who is not a big, vociferous one but nothing really ruffles or troubles him. When I came in I wanted to give everyone a chance. He was injured at the start of the season but he is one of them who benefits from playing week in, week out. He is young, a smashing lad who wants to learn and do well and I have to give credit to goalkeeper coach Nigel Spink too. He enjoys working with him. That has given him a bit of confidence too. Gordon has improved with every appearance since winning his place back in the FA Cup defeat at Portsmouth on January 23, which arrived just a week after Fulop had conceded seven at Chelsea. The 28-year-old has had impressive spells and indifferent runs during his two-and-ahalf years on Wearside, although Bruce thinks Sunderland are starting to see the very best of him. Gordon has kept four clean sheets in his last five matches including a 1-0 win for Scotland over the Czech Republic and his confidence has been rubbing off on those around him. A solid, stable defence has also helped and Bruce hinted that he will be asking Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp what it will take to turn Alan Hutton's loan into a permanent arrangement. No deal is in place for a summer switch for the right-back, but Bruce has been impressed by the defender's performances and attitude. We have to respect the fact that we have never had a conversation with Spurs, he said. I have not had any conversation with Harry to see if he is available. Harry was pretty desperate for him to get some football under his belt because he had not played for a while but if he was available then, of course, I would be interested. Sunderland have been encouraged to learn that Kenwyne Jones is likely to be fit after damaging his hip in the draw with City, while Lee Cattermole and Andy Reid are both in contention. Cash turnstiles will be in operation at the Stadium of Light tomorrow. Tickets will be available for £27 (no concessions) from cash turnstiles 13, 14, 70 and 71. Visiting supporters can purchase tickets from turnstile 61. Tickets remain on general sale from the Stadium of Light ticket office, from £22 for adults, £10 for under-16s and £17 for over-65s and under-22s. Black Cats Bar tickets are available for £50.
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