Sunderland news

Bruce delighted by Gyan-Bent strike partnership

September 14, 2010

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce is relishing the opportunity to see record signing Asamoah Gyan team up with Darren Bent.

Asamoah Gyan
PA PhotosAsamoah Gyan marked his Sunderland debut with a goal in the 1-1 draw with Wigan

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The pair played their first 45 minutes together at Wigan on Saturday as Bruce sent on his £13 million-plus latest acquisition as a second-half substitute alongside the man who plundered 25 goals in his first season on Wearside.

The Ghana international marked his debut with a 66th-minute strike which might have proved the winner, only for Antolin Alcaraz to snatch a point at the death.

Gyan could get his first start at home to Arsenal this weekend, and Bruce is delighted to have got his hands on a man he believes can prove the perfect foil for Bent.

The manager freely admits the club relied too heavily on the former Tottenham frontman, for whom he paid an initial £10 million last summer, during his first campaign at the Stadium of Light, and has now invested heavily to provide him with support.

"We have brought in another guy to give him a hand," Bruce said. "It looks a very fruitful partnership, I hope, but certainly Darren has contributed massively over the last 12 months.

"Since he walked through the door, he has scored goal after goal. We have had the privilege of watching him now over 12 months and he is a natural goalscorer.''

Bent spent much of last season playing alongside Kenwyne Jones, although when Stoke came calling with an £8 million bid this summer, Bruce decided the time was right to sell the Trinidad and Tobago international.

There was growing disquiet around the city as the transfer window entered its final few days with no replacement having arrived, and concern mounted when Fraizer Campbell, who had started the season alongside the former Ipswich and Charlton man, succumbed to a serious knee injury.

However, Bruce finally pushed home his long-term interest in Gyan, a player he had followed since his time as Birmingham boss, just minutes ahead of the deadline.

But while the newcomer has understandably attracted much of the attention since, Bent has quietly gone about the business of enhancing his reputation further.

Four goals in as many games at the start of the new campaign won the 26-year-old a place in the England squad for the recent Euro 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland.

He got his chance as a 70th-minute replacement for the injured Jermain Defoe in Basel and 18 minutes later, fired home a first senior goal for his country in a 3-1 victory.

Bruce was delighted for a player whose international claims he backed all last season, and with Defoe facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines with damaged ankle ligaments, he is urging him to stake his claim after being left out of the squad for the ill-fated World Cup campaign in South Africa.

"Darren could easily have sulked and gone away and moped, but he has come back and made sure he has given himself every opportunity again, which is terrific," Bruce said. "Now with Jermain Defoe missing, maybe it might be his chance.''