Club Focus – Sunderland – The future looks bright for the Black Cats

Injuries continue to hamper Steve Bruce’s side but there has been much cause for optimism during Sunderland’s pre season.As the big kick-off looms large, Sunderland’s pre-season continues to be affected by a number of injury worries to key players. Craig Gordon and Titus Bramble are both on the treatment table, and earlier this week Anton Ferdinand added is name to an ever growing list.

The unfortunate injury to Craig Gordon is well publicised. He is likely to be absent for a number of months after sustaining a fractured wrist in pre-season training. It is a cruel blow to a player who has been dogged by injury since he joined from Hearts three seasons ago, but who has looked very much the £9m goalkeeper when given a run in the first team. With George McCartney also sidelined, the back four that Steve Bruce will name for the opening game against his old club Birmingham City is far from certain . Michael Turner’s still to be served two match suspension gives the Sunderland manager a further selection headache. Ferdinand’s injury was sustained during the North-East side’s 2-1 friendly win against Leicester City where he lasted only twenty minutes and he is likely to miss the beginning of the season.

Despite Sunderland’s backline looking somewhat depleted, it was still a surprise to find that, on Thursday night, the official website of John Mensah was suggesting the player would be making a permanent move to Wearside following his successful loan last season. At the time of writing, however, the club had no comment on this development. The Black Cats also appear to be in the market for a new goalkeeper, with reports linking the club with a loan move for Manchester City’s England international Joe Hart. Steve Bruce told the Sunderland Echo: “We’ve asked the question and we now just have to wait and see what City say.”

There was good news for Jordan Henderson who has earned his first call up to the England Under-21 side. The 20-year-old, life long Sunderland supporter greatly impressed last season during his 38 appearances for the first team. Henderson has represented England at under-19 and under-20 level, and it will come as no surprise to hear he has broken through to the next level to those who watched his mature and accomplished first team performances last season: “It’s a good boost before the new season’s even started” the player told the club’s website: “My main aim is to get into the first team at Sunderland on a regular basis and anything else is a bonus.”

There has been, however, an exodus of the Black Cat’s other young players from the Stadium of Light. Yesterday, three players moved out on loan. Michael Liddle joined League one side Leyton Orient for six months and Oumare Tounkara and Jean-Yves M’voto securing season-long moves to Oldham Athletic. Marton Fulop has also left the club, but in this case permanently, after finalizing his transfer to Championship side Ipswich Town. The player will rejoin Roy Keane, and will add to the growing list of players who have made the move from the North-East to Suffolk over the past year.

Sunderland travel to Germany this weekend to play their final game in what has been, injuries aside, a promising pre-season. Aside from a 2-0 defeat to Portuguese giants Benfica, the North East side have looked fairly solid during their warm up games and they managed wins over Munster, Hull City and Leicester City. After greatly impressing towards the end of last season, Fraizer Campbell appeared to have started again where he left off. The young striker found the net six times during the Black Cat’s warm up games and his manager has tipped him to be one of his side’s star players next season. He also hinted that Fabio Capello should consider him for his England side: “Fraizer has been sensational for us. He’s come back from the summer break and looks a million dollars,” said Bruce who signed him for £3.5m a year ago: “As for England, why not? Why not go with up and coming talent?”

Up and coming talent seems to be something the club seem to have an abundance of at the moment and if Campbell can carry his pre-season goal scoring form into the new campaign, Darren Bent might even have a rival for the club’s top goalscorer accolade this season.

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