Growing injury list a worry for Bruce

03 January 2011 11:31
STEVE Bruce is fearful that a spate of injuries may scupper Sunderland's bid to secure his sole objective of a top-ten finish.[LNB] The Black Cats eased to a 3-0 win over Blackburn Rovers on Saturday to go sixth in the table, but, rocked by the news that captain Lee Cattermole is to miss the next month with a back injury, Bruce is concerned that his young squad may not be able to sustain an assault on the top half of the Premier League.[LNB] Echoing a belief long held by his former mentor Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, Bruce - who again played down talk of European qualification - said: "The league starts to sort itself out about now. It starts now, and we have given ourselves a chance. [LNB] "Question is, can we maintain it Cattermole is out for a month with a back injury. So that is a blow. We have been advised to rest him. We have Mensah and Turner out too, but we have a nucleus of a good young squad.[LNB] "I will talk about establishing in the Premier League and not be a yo-yo team, like Sunderland have been in the past. But I'm not here to talk about Europe.[LNB] "It is nice to see we are sixth, but it's nicer to have 33 points which we should have. I have good young players who I enjoy working with. I knew I was losing players when I was sixth with Wigan. Here, we don't have to lose anyone - and that's very pleasing.[LNB] Injuries to Cattermole, Turner, Onuoha - who will miss another fortnight - have caused problems for Sunderland, but, that said, they eased to their tenth clean sheet of the season against Rovers.[LNB] Such an achievement, Bruce believes, is testament to his squad, who are on average the youngest in the Premier League.[LNB] Bruce reserved special praise for Jordan Henderson and David Meyler, who played his first full match in seven months after a cruciate ligament injury.[LNB] He said: "When you look at Cattermole as well, he is 22, Elmohamady is 22. I am delighted for David Meyler. Jordan (Henderson) gets the headlines, but David has done everything to get back playing again. [LNB] "The two of them have a wonderful appetite. No one will work harder and be more committed than them two. Energy, honesty, endeavour. [LNB] "He does all the things a team needs. You have to win the ball back. We all like footballers but he does the ugly side well and to play against him must be a nightmare. He is up and down the pitch. Look at Gyan's goal, David was up there haring alongside him in the 89th minute."[LNB] Bruce dedicated the win to former Rovers manager Sam Allardyce, a close friend of the Black Cats manager who was fired by Rovers' new owners Venky's - a decision which Bruce branded 'ludicrous'. [LNB] "That is for Sam," Bruce declared. "For the nonsense that went around for his sacking. I hope he has a drink in Dubai where he is today. He is a pal. [LNB] "But the ludicrous situation they have put themselves in to sack him and appoint his coach is ridiculous. Winning today is a good result for football."[LNB] "I am not saying Steve (Kean) was responisble. The people who sacked Sam were responsible. I have had a drink with Steve."[LNB] Meanwhile, Bruce was delighted that Darren Bent ended his barren spell with a 19th minute goal.[LNB] He said: "I have never lost faith in Darren. I have been fortunate to have played with great strikers. That all go through a little bit of it.[LNB] "The good thing for Benty is that he never shied away from it. He will always come back for more. He has that mentality of 'If I miss one I will get the next'. He has got it today. He is the top English scorer in the calendar year. That is a remarkable achievement. [LNB] "Yes he has not scored in December. Wow. He will be OK. For me class in permanent and Darren will always score a goal. Always has done."[LNB]

Source: Northern_Echo