STEVE Bruce has refused to rule out bringing in a loan striker to bolster Sunderland's firepower - but still feels misfiring Asamoah Gyan will hit goalscoring form soon.
Acknowledging Gyan has been below par so far this season, Bruce has pledged to put the rusty striker through extra fitness sessions to bring him back up to speed.
The Ghana striker has looked average in both of Sunderland’s opening fixtures, with Bruce left cursing his side’s lack of cutting edge after they missed a succession of chances in the first half of Saturday’s derby defeat to Newcastle.
With that in mind, Bruce is contemplating a striker addition – although he brushed off talk of an interest in Freiburg’s Senegal striker Papiss Cissé which was circulating over the weekend.
Sunderland will instead look at possible loan additions, even though Bruce admits it will be “very difficult” to get a top-class striker on board in time for the trip to Swansea on Saturday.
Both for that game and tonight at Brighton in the Carling Cup, it looks more than likely Gyan will continue to lead the line, Bruce hopeful an extended run of games will coax better form from his blue chip forward.
He said: “With Asa, I don’t think his fitness levels are quite right yet. I don’t think he is up to speed with it quite yet.
“If you remember he had six weeks off at the back end of last season, so he has had twice as long as everyone else off.
“We hvae identified that, we have looked at him and we know something is not quite firing yet.
“We think it is physical more than anything so he will put in extra work and we will be working with him to try to turn that around again – but it is early days.
“If that shot on half-time is three inches lower on Saturday and that whistles in, then it is Asa and what he is capable of.
“In the long-term I know for a fact he is capable of scoring in the Premier League.
“Sessègnon, I predicted he would have an impact at the start of the season and his performance mirrored what I have been predicting pre-season. He has been terrific.”
Having said that, Bruce knows if a top-class striker becomes available he will be prepared to make a case to owner Ellis Short. Sunderland have already turned down the offer of loaning either Mame Biram Diouf or Federico Macheda from Manchester United – and now know Danny Welbeck will not be made available.
So that leaves the Black Cats boss scouring the foreign market, while also keeping an eagle eye on the situation at Manchester City.
Nonetheless, if nothing happens Bruce will have few complaints about going to January with Gyan and Sessègnon backed up by promising new recruits Ji Dong-Won from South Korea, and teenager Connor Wickham.
He added: “I am quietly confident we have enough firepower to see us through, but If I was to do something that would be the area I would look at. However, it is very, very difficult to do that.”
Pressed specifically on the transfer front, Bruce repeated his assertion Sunderland are not close to a breakthrough.
Out-of-favour defenders Nyron Nosworthy and Matt Kilgallon will need to shifted from the wage bill before anything happens on the incoming front – and neither player has attracted a firm offer yet.
Bruce is also wary of being pressed into snap judgements about his squad based on the disappointment of the derby result.
“He said: “The defeat does not affect my thinking at all. Nothing is imminent transfer-wise.”