STEVE Bruce has shelved plans to bring in another striker as he predicts fit-again Asamoah Gyan will improve on last season’s 11 top-flight goals.
Although Bruce retains an interest in brokering an unlikely deal for Charles N’Zogbia, all is currently quiet on the Black Cats transfer front.
Estudiantes have contacted Sunderland again about right-back flop Marcos Angeleri, who is back in Wearside to report for Sunderland but out of favour, while Matt Kilgallon is interesting Birmingham City.
Bruce had hoped to bring in a left-sided midfielder and a forward, but with N’Zogbia’s £65,000-a-week wage demands some way out of the Black Cats’ wage structure, it appears as if it is no more than a pipe dream at the moment.
The Sunderland chief would also like to re-sign Danny Welbeck on loan but believes Sir Alex Ferguson will keep him until at least January.
He has been offered Mame Biram Diouf or Federico Macheda instead but believes them to be no better than what he already has.
So he will rely on a striker pack that includes Gyan, who trained with the full first-team squad for the first time yesterday and will make his return to first-team action at Kilmarnock next week.
Ji Dong-Won will get another chance to shine against Borussia Mönchengladbach this afternoon while Connor Wickham will also be given an opportunity to make his mark.
Hopes are high, however, for the Ghana star who has been linked with a move away this summer.
“There’s been this speculation about Asa. I think with Asa and the way he is, there’s always going to be that,” Bruce said. “He loves a camera, the loves the TV crews and an audience, but I believe he’ll be far, far better for us this year because he knows what to expect. He knows that there’s no winter break this season as well! He’s being flogged to death in training at the moment.
“Make no mistake; with 11 goals in 20 appearances he’s a good player and I don’t want to lose our good players.”
The speculation that Bruce is referring to surrounds a possible move to Spurs and Sunderland have been quick to dismiss it. Naturally there is a point at which the club would listen to offers but Bruce knows the Black Cats fans “trust” him and the club to make the right decision.
Asked whether he could guarantee the striker would be at the Stadium of Light, he said it would be impossible to rule out every scenario.
“Of course there are times – and I’ve said this before – if it’s big enough,” he said.
“There’s Tevez coming close to leaving Manchester City. But I think the big thing for me is that the Sunderland fans trust in what we’re trying to do.” Sunderland return to the North East tonight after what Bruce has called a successful training camp in the Hannover hills.
He believes that the club can make the most of the air of positivity surrounding the camp.
“There’s a feelgood factor just before the start of the season that they’re improving and that’s all we can aim for,” he said. “The rest now is to say can we go and do better than we did last year, which is going to be tough.” The one void to be filled is on the left, where Bruce had hoped to field N’Zogbia. Max Gradel has been mentioned as an alternative but Bruce believes his squad does contain players who can play there.
“Where are the natural lefties of that quality, who can go past people?
“We’ve got Jack Colback, David Vaughan, Kieran Richardson, people who could play up the left – I’m convinced of that.” Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has revealed N’Zogbia has not travelled with the rest of the Latics squad for a pre-season tour of Austria.
The former Newcastle player has made no secret of his wish to leave Wigan.
Whelan said: “(The team) have gone to Austria today but ‘Zoggy’ hasn’t gone.
“He is a great lad to have around the club.
“If we do lose him, then we will miss him enormously.”