Sunderland close in on John Mensah
Bruce is hoping to finalise a deal for the 26-year-old Ghanaian centre-back this weekend. It would see the player joining Sunderland on a season-long loan which could become a £7 million transfer. "John Mensah has had a medical here and now we just have to get over the issues such as work permits and all the rest of it but we don't envisage a problem there," Bruce said. Related ArticlesSunderland v Blackburn previewBent eyes England recall"We are very, very close. The two clubs have agreed and we hope that before the transfer deadline that he will walk through the door. We hope we're almost there and get that one over the line in the next 24, 48 hours. It might be a bit longer and sincerely hope he can join us before the window finishes." Bruce, who has been linked with Manchester City defender Richard Dunne and Portsmouth's Sylvain Distin, also confirmed the departure of former Arsenal striker Anthony Stokes. The Irishman has joined Scottish Premier League club Hibernian for an undisclosed fee following a disappointing two years at Sunderland since Roy Keane brought him from the Emirates. "There comes a time when a footballer wants to20play and I think he has seen Bent walk through the door and Fraizer Campbell and he has thought to himself I want to play football," Bruce said. "So we wish him the best of luck. He's gone the two clubs have said it is undisclosed, which usually means not very much." Bruce also railed against the fixture congestion that means his club will have played four games in just over a fortnight when they travel to Norwich, where he used to play, on Monday. "It is totally ludicrous that with the League Cup game at Norwich on Monday and with the internationals that we have to play five games in two weeks when we are just starting the season," he said. "It is ridiculous. We have got one or two knocks but what we have to do is not to make it a mistake of using it as excuse. Trying to play so many games in such a short space of time so soon into the season is totally nonsense." As he prepares to pit his wits against Blackburn counterpart Sam Allardyce, Bruce has doubts over Lorik Sana (hand), Lee Cattermole (back), Steed Malbranque (ankle) and goalkeeper Marton Fulop with a heel problem that could mean Craig Gordon is promoted from the substitutes' bench. "Craig is in a position to play in called upon - I might have to rush him in if necessary," Bruce added.
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