Striking deficiency hampers Steve Bruce’s ambitions

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STEVE Bruce said that you only have to look at the change of personnel in Sunderland’s striking department over the last year to realise that goals are likely to prove more difficult to come by this season.

After watching his side play out a goalless home draw against Fulham on Saturday, the Black Cats’ manager acknowledged: “Our Achilles heel at the moment is our goalscoring and we didn’t do enough in this game to get on the scoresheet.

“Last year, we had a bundle of natural goalscorers in the side, but that’s gone now and we’re finding that we’re playing well but not scoring as much as we should do.

“At one point, we had Danny Welbeck, Darren Bent, Asamoah Gyan and Fraizer Campbell to choose from, but we simply don’t have that sort of firepower to call on anymore.”

The manager did excuse Nicklas Bendtner for his anonymous performance at the weekend.

The Dane has been an impressive force for the Black Cats since joining on loan on transfer deadline day.

And Bruce argued: “International games can take it our of you and he looked out on his feet against Fulham.

“He’d played two international games in four days and he was shattered at the end.

“I should have brought him off really, but we didn’t really have any other options up front. Even during the game though, he was doing most of his work out wide on the right and not really getting into the danger zones.”

The manager is confident that his squad can make progress overall – when fully fit, he can call on Bendtner, Ji Dong-won and Connor Wickham.

Youngster Ryan Noble will hope to continue his progress, while Fraizer Campbell’s drive for first-team fitness after serious injury could see him back before Christmas.

But if Bruce gets the chance to strengthen in January, he will.

“We have to address the lack of strikers, but it is difficult,” he sighed.

“For me, the one advantage we had over the 12 other teams around us in the division last season was the quality of our strikers.

“For one reason or another we’ve lost them. But we will do our utmost to find the right ones for the job, and that’s my job, to keep us moving forward.”