STEVE Bruce is close to signing two unnamed strikers in a bid to solve the goalscoring woes which have undermined Sunderland’s start to the new season.
The Black Cats have scored just one goal in three games so far – Seb Larsson’s equaliser which earned a deserved point at Liverpool on the opening day of the season.
They have drawn blanks in their last two games, which have ended in a derby defeat against Newcastle United in the Premier League and a Carling Cup exit at Brighton.
Record signing Asamoah Gyan has looked off-the-pace while Stéphane Sessègnon, playing just off Gyan, has sparkled outside the penalty area without being able to find the net. With Bruce admitting summer buys Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-Won will take time to adjust to life in the Premier League, Bruce has decided he needs to sign proven goal-getters.
The Sunderland boss has revealed he is hoping to sign one frontman on a permanent deal and one on loan before the transfer window closes on Wednesday evening.
He said: “We know we need more firepower so we have one or two irons in the fire and we hope they will come to fruition.
“We are not naive. Of course we are aware we need more firepower. We are close to one or two things – one permanent, one loan deal – and that will help us.”
Bruce has made no secret of the fact he needs to offload players he has deemed surplus to requirements, and he has had some success with George McCartney and Cristian Riveros leaving on season-long loans.
However, he is still looking to ship out defenders Nyron Nosworthy and Matt Kilgallon, neither of whom have a future on Wearside.
Bruce added: “I need to sell those players who are not involved. That has always been the case, nothing has changed.
“I have to balance the books as best I can, but I have done that.
“We still have Nosworthy and Kilgallon, but if they go that frees up money on the wage bill and that is part of the remit. Nothing has changed, that is where we are at.”
Bruce’s side have endured a painful week after back-to-back defeats against Newcastle and then Brighton, but this afternoon they head to newly-promoted Swansea City’s Liberty Stadium looking to lift the mood on Wearside by securing their first win of the season.
Bruce said: “Coming on the back of the Newcastle game, we could not have asked for a more difficult cup tie than away at Brighton.
“They were promoted last season, and the same goes for today’s opponents Swansea.
“They are very similar. They have played the same way for a number of years, keeping the ball for long periods. That is what they work on.
“You have to compliment the way they try and play, but if we go there and win we have four points from three games which is a decent start considering two of those games were away from home.
“It will be a good test, but I know that if we are capable of getting a result at Liverpool we can get one at Swansea.
“Their two wide lads – Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer – catch the eye, so we know what to expect from them and they bought the Championship top scorer in Danny Graham.
“However, I am more concerned about us and how we will get three points. That is the challenge.
“We have answer the criticism we are facing at the moment and make sure we get a result.”
Bruce will hand £5m summer buy John O’Shea a belated debut now the former Manchester United man has finally recovered from the hamstring problem which restricted him to less than 45 minutes action at German side Arminia Bielefeld in his only pre-season outing. Bruce said: “John is a class act, a very good player – you do not make 350-odd appearances for a club like Manchester United unless you are a top player.
“He gives us vital experience and makes us better.”
Phil Bardsley is also available again after sitting out the Brighton game through suspension after being sent-off in the derby.
Gyan played only the final 12 minutes of the Brighton defeat, with Bruce revealing the Ghana international was unwell, but he is expected to be fit to face the Swans.
Bruce added: “Asa was sick the other night and was not 100%.
“I still do not think he is fully over the hamstring strain he suffered against Wigan last season.
“However, the more he trains and plays, the better he will be.”