Bruce to go on the attack

Bruce to go on the attack

Published Apr. 7, 2011 5:06 p.m. ET

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce is ready to go back on the offensive as he targets a strong finish to the season.

Injuries have severely limited the manager's options in recent months with Danny Welbeck's absence in the wake of Darren Bent's departure in particular proving costly.

The Black Cats slipped to their sixth defeat in seven Premier League outings at Manchester City on Sunday and have not scored in seven hours 20 minutes of football stretching back to Asamoah Gyan's early strike in the 2-1 home defeat by Tottenham on February 12.

However, Welbeck's return from a knee injury gives Bruce another option, and he has hinted that the 4-5-1 system which has proved so unproductive in recent weeks could be abandoned for a more progressive approach for West Brom's visit to the Stadium of Light on Saturday.


He told the club's official website, "There will be a very different slant on things.

"We have worked on the basics all week as a team. With the losses we have had, we have had to play one up front and play some different systems.

"Now we have a few bodies back we can revert to type, a 'Steve Bruce' team if you like, similar to the Sunderland we saw in previous months.

"Players coming back give us a different option."

Bruce had also hoped to have Fraizer Campbell available at City after a seven-month lay-off, also with a knee injury, but he was a late withdrawal from the squad after twisting his knee in training last Friday.

Campbell saw a specialist earlier this week and while the initial news was encouraging - it had been feared he could be ruled out for the final seven games of the campaign - the Black Cats will know the full extent of any damage tomorrow when they receive the report.

Bruce said: "We will know more on Friday about Fraizer. We are hopeful he could be okay, though not for the weekend."

Campbell's latest misfortune was compounded by another training ground injury to defender Titus Bramble, who also missed out at Eastlands after damaging a knee cartilage.

Again, the early prognosis was bleak, but while the former Newcastle and Wigan player will sit out again this Saturday, there have been suggestions his season may not yet have drawn to a close.

Sunderland's 5-0 drubbing at City saw them slip to 12th place in the table, just six points clear of the relegation zone.

But while there was little to cheer for Bruce, he was at least able to console himself with Michael Turner's return from his own lengthy absence, also with a knee problem, and Welbeck's fitness.

The manager said: "That's the biggest thing I have now, competition. Danny Welbeck is fit, he adds competition to Gyan - that's what a strong, healthy squad is all about.

"Unfortunately for us over the last few weeks, we have been missing that, I haven't really had that to freshen it up when probably we needed to.

"But it's slowly coming."