STEVE Bruce fears Nicklas Bendtner’s stunning international form is in danger of scuppering a permanent move to Sunderland.
The 23-year-old is on a season-long loan from Arsenal and determined to leave the Emirates next summer despite being contracted to the Gunners until 2014.
As such, Bruce has restated his strong desire to land the striker on a permanent deal, admitting he would “love to sign him”.
However, the Black Cats boss suspects the confidence Bendtner has gleaned from a novel and newfound spell of regular first-team football at the Stadium of Light could backfire on the club’s hopes of retaining him on a long-term basis.
Since arriving on Wearside on the last day before the summer transfer window closed, Bendtner has scored just two goals in seven appearances for his adopted club.
However, on the international scene during that time, the Denmark international has five in as many games, including one in a 2-0 friendly win over Sweden eight days ago and another in his country’s 2-1 victory against Finland on Tuesday.
That, Bruce believes, demonstrates the extent to which Bendtner’s loan move has paid dividends for the player.
However, the Sunderland manager feels it will also have alerted the attention of rival suitors and thus harm his club’s chances of holding onto the forward.
Bruce said: “I have made no secret we would love to sign him.
“However, it is going to be one of those again, the better he does, certainly internationally, (the more) people are looking at him.
“I spoke to (Denmark coach) Morten Olsen on Thursday and he was delighted with his performances and, I have to say, so am I for us.
“He has done terrifically well, so let’s hope he keeps doing that.
“Apparently his performance against Sweden was outstanding, that was the report I got from Olsen – but he is another one who has benefited from coming here.
“He was out of the picture at Arsenal and all of a sudden he is playing.
“Now I think he has got five in five for his international team since he has come to Sunderland.
“So we would like to take him and the conversation is one that will probably take place in five or six months.
“At the moment, Nick is doing very well for us – and I hope he will continue with that.”
Bruce is still searching for the right attacking formula since the departures of Darren Bent and Danny Welbeck.
However, with Connor Wickham and Fraizer Campbell nearing a return from injury, he said: “Yes, they (Bent and Welbeck) are going to take some replacing, but Connor was starting to grow into it.
“I think he (Campbell) will be back in the next two weeks.
“We will probably get him two games behind closed doors and hope he can come back. He could be a force again, which would be great.” Meanwhile, Bruce has confirmed that, while Titus Bramble (pictured left) has served his six-week suspension following two charges of alleged sexual assault – charges he denies – the knee injury which ruled him out of Sunderland’s 3-0 reserve win over Newcastle United in midweek seems likely to keep the defender out of the first-team picture for some time.
Bruce said: “Titus is available, he has accepted the punishment from the club and also accepted he had brought the club into disrepute.
“After that, it is in the hands of the police, so I cannot say anything.
“He picked up a knock to his knee and a bad one as well. He was about to play on Wednesday but his knee was sore, so we will keep working on that.”