Jordan can be a threat – Bruce

With Asamoah Gyan and Danny Welbeck having joined Fraizer Campbell

on the casualty list, Bruce went into Saturday’s Premier League

clash with Fulham without a single senior striker available, and

even youngster Ryan Noble ruled out with a knee problem. But where

the gamble of playing midfielders Stephane Sessegnon and Steed

Malbranque in advanced roles against Wigan a week earlier after

Gyan and Welbeck had succumbed paid off handsomely in a 4-2

victory, a lack of firepower proved costly at the weekend.

Malbranque in particular passed up a gilt-edged opportunity and the

visitors made the Black Cats pay as Simon Davies snatched a double

after Gael Kakuta had opened the scoring to seal a 3-0 win at the

Stadium of Light. The defeat was Sunderland’s ninth in 11 league

games and means they have taken just four of the last 33 points

they have contested. With no improvement on the injury situation

expected before the end of the campaign, Bruce will tackle the

final three games looking to his midfielders for inspiration in

front of goal. Henderson scored twice against Wigan to underline

his potency, although the 20-year-old limped off with 15 minutes of

Saturday’s game remaining, and the manager will keep his fingers

crossed over a man he believes could provide a temporary solution

to his problems. Bruce said: “The one thing about him when he plays

on the right, he does arrive in the box and it seems to give him a

bit more licence to get forward. “That suited him, and for him to

score a couple of goals was terrific. “That’s what he needs to

improve – the kid knows that. The good thing about him is, as you

have seen, when he does get there, he finishes. When he gets a

chance, he can finish. “We have to keep working on it, to arrive in

the box and want to get in there. He can be a threat.” Despite

their recent slump, the Black Cats remain six points clear of the

drop zone with just nine left for which to play, and they are

unlikely to be sucked back into the pack. They head for Bolton next

weekend before entertaining struggling Wolves, and then travel to

bottom-of-the-table West Ham on the final day of the season. While

Bruce knows Mick McCarthy’s men and the Hammers in particular will

be scrapping desperately for the points, he is happy enough with

the way the fixture list has panned out. He said: “We couldn’t have

wished for a better run-in, even though they are big games because

they are teams who are fighting for their lives. “But we know

against the teams we are playing in the next few weeks, we are

capable of getting a result. “I would rather be going to, no

disrespect, the Reebok at Bolton or West Ham rather than Tottenham,

Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, so we have got a chance. “The

one thing I know about the Premier League is it’s always a hard

game. It doesn’t matter who you play against, you have to be at the

top of your game.”