SUNDERLAND boss Steve Bruce goes into tomorrow’s game against Arsenal admitting he has THREE players in mind for the role of lone striker at the Emirates tomorrow.
The job would automatically have gone to in-form forward Nicklas Bendtner, had he been allowed to play against his parent club.
But with the Dane ruled out Bruce says he’s weighing up the prospective merits of Ji, Connor Wickham and Stephane Sessegnon.
He told the Echo: “You would think that with one striker ruled out it would make my selection decision much easier but actually I’m going to have a difficult decision to make because there’s good cases for all of them.
“Ji was impressive in the international game I saw him in earlier this week.
“He’s got height and he also has pace and movement but he’s also just flown back from playing on the other side of the world and that’s very draining – I know that myself, and I wasn’t even playing out there!
“Connor is an obvious choice because of his physical presence but he’s still very raw and he’s coming back from injury, he only returned to training this week.
And then there’s Stephane.
“He’s not the obvious choice because of his size but we played him there last season in some of the last few games and he was outstanding.
“He also got three goals in those last five games and his work rate in that position is tremendous, so I’ve got a lot to think about before I decide which way to go.”
Though strikers are on his mind, defence will be the key against the Londoners, who are capable of scoring from any angle and numerous positions when they are on song.
And on that score, the Sunderland manager is pleased that Michael Turner will be available again this weekend after his return from long-term injury in the last game, against West Brom.
The manager said: “It was a tough opening 10 minutes for Michael in that game and he was unlucky to see a deflected ball leaving him with a sprint with Shane Long for what turned out to be an Albion goal.
“But he got better and better as the game went on and he was excellent second-half, much more like the Michael Turner we know, and it’s good to have him available again this weekend.
“We were short on numbers in defence going into the Albion game and it said everything about Michael’s character that he wanted to play even though he could have done with a bit more time out to get himself totally right.
“It will take him a run of games before we see him back to his very best.
“But his physical presence and his quality in the air are fantastic assets for us and he’s going to be an important defender in a game where it will be absolutely vital that we defend well.”