Bruce: Bolton style's the same

BY foxsports • December 17, 2010

The Scot has earned numerous plaudits for transforming Bolton in the 11 months since he succeeded Gary Megson, including making them a more attractive side to watch. The Trotters go into Saturday lunchtime's Premier League encounter at the Stadium of Light sitting in sixth place, two points and one place ahead of their opponents. But, while Bruce is prepared to give Coyle plenty of praise for the job he has done at the Reebok Stadium, he still believes they rely largely on the long-ball tactics they have been renowned for since promotion to the Premier League 10 seasons ago. The Sunderland boss said: "I've just watched two videos of them, and I still think they can get it forward quickly to (Johan) Elmander and (Kevin) Davies. And why not? "They've got Stuart Holden and (Fabrice) Muamba in the middle of the park, and in the wide areas (Martin) Petrov and the Korean boy (Lee Chung-yong) have got a bit of quality about them. "Hats off to them. Owen's done a smashing job but I don't think they're playing that much different. If that's disrespectful to them, then I'll take that." Chief among the threats to Sunderland will be long-serving striker Kevin Davies, who has led the Bolton line for the last seven-and-a-half years and already has six goals to his name this season. The 33-year-old was handed his first England cap earlier this season against Montenegro, and Bruce is a big admirer. "The talisman of the lot is Davies," he said. "He's always going to be a handful for anybody. He's been around for years and he's still vitally important to them. "He does everything you require for a centre forward. He's tough as old boots, he works for the team, he's unselfish, he knows how to play in that position. Maybe he's underrated by the public or the media, but within the game he's highly respected." Saturday's meeting will be the teams' first since March, when Sunderland ended a run of 14 games without a win by thrashing the Trotters 4-0. It remains Coyle's worst defeat as Bolton manager and Bruce's biggest win in 18 months at Sunderland. "It got us out of the horrible run we were in at the time," said Bruce. "We hadn't won for three months and all of a sudden we won back-to-back games and were up and running again. "Let's hope we can do the same again. But, to be fair to Bolton, they're a good team. I watched them destroy Newcastle a few weeks ago and we're in for a very, very big test. "They'll come up here and relish the challenge of taking us on. They're sixth in the league at the moment, which is a wonderful achievement, so we'll have to be at our best. "Us and them have made huge strides. If you look at both teams from a year ago, we're far, far better than what we were." Sunderland have only lost three home games in 18 months under Bruce but they have more defensive injury problems to contend with after Anton Ferdinand was ruled out of the clash. The centre-back limped off during last weekend's 0-0 draw at Fulham with what looked like a hamstring injury and was expected to be out for up to a month at a time when Michael Turner and Titus Bramble are already missing. Further examination revealed the problem could instead have been caused by a back spasm and Bruce had hoped he might be fit for Saturday but it has now been confirmed the match will come too early. That means Nedum Onuoha is likely to move inside to partner John Mensah in the centre, with Ahmed Elmohamady coming in at right-back - the position he plays for Egypt. Goalkeeper Craig Gordon will return after missing last week with a hamstring problem while Asamoah Gyan (toe) is also fit, but Boudewijn Zenden (concussion) is a doubt.

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