Club Focus – Sunderland – Cruel injury blow to Darren Bent, but Mackems raring to go again

After a promising start to the season and some excellent performances, a new sense of momentum seems to be reinvigorating the Stadium of Light. Following an international break involving many of the current squad, Steve Bruce will be raring to get started again.

Sunderland will have to wait until Monday night before they are back in action, with a potentially tough trip to Ewood Park to play Blackburn Rovers. Bruce will be sweating on the fitness of his star striker Darren Bent as he aims to begin to remedy his side’s poor away form. However, after a tired end to last campaign, some excellent transfers has seen Sunderland reinvigorated this term and the side have already laid a solid foundation on which to build a successful season. The current squad looks to be strongest the Black Cats have had in a long time and there is a sense amongst supporters that there is a real opportunity for side to push their way up the table and compete for the European positions. The fixtures now begin to get little easier, at least on paper, and if Bruce can turn some creditable recent away performances into wins and maintain the Black Cats’ often overlooked but formidable home record, it will be a recipe for success.

The injury to Darren Bent, preventing him from almost certainly starting for England against Montenegro on Tuesday night, was an unfortunate blow to a player whose good fortune at club level has never really seemed to follow him into the international squad. With a recent England goal to his name, an ever-growing injury list to the strikers available to Fabio Capello, and a genuine lack of quality up front, the chance is surely now there for Bent to stake his claim for a regular berth in the England starting lineup.

Playing in such a key fixture would have been an ideal opportunity for Bent to do this and after missing out on a place in Capello’s World Cup squad, he must be cursing the ill fortune that seems to be plaguing him at this level. Perhaps Capello has been further swayed in his favour by Bruce’s sudden change to a 4-5-1 formation. Many pundits have previously argued that Bent is ill-suited to international football, because of his inability to play as a lone striker and hold up play, but his performances this season have done a lot to dispel those arguments.

It has been a better week for Sunderland’s other players on international duty, with Jordan Henderson and Danny Welbeck helping England Under-21s to victory in their European Championship qualifier, Christian Riveros and Paulo Da Silva victorious for Paraguay and even Phil Bardsley winning his first Scotland cap in their defeat to Spain.

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