Gary Rowell: Sunderland should be optimistic at Bolton

Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist
Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist
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SUNDERLAND take on Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok and have two good reasons for optimism going into the weekend – Nicklas Bendtner and Phil Bardsley are back.

Nicklas Bendtner, for me, was our best performer in his last two games and the man most likely to get us the goal or goals we’ll need to get all three points on Saturday.

Not only is he a class act but he’s also in-form and the one thing that we have to do at the weekend is make sure he gets good service.

As for Phil Bardsley, who has now served a four-match suspension, his competitive nature will be a welcome in a game that is likely to be a battle.

He’s capable of being a leader on the pitch and the more leaders we have at the moment the better.

If he comes back in, then we’re likely to have a back line of O’Shea, Turner, Brown and Bardsley and that’s physically a big and strong enough back four to stand up to any challenge.

We’ll need to grind a result out because it’s always a battle at the Reebok.

Bolton are a bit more refined than they might have been in yesteryear but Kevin Davies still epitomises their robust style and Sunderland will need to be strong if they are to prosper.

Last week was 15th v 16th in the Premier League, this week it’s 17th v 18th and that pretty much encapsulates Sunderland’s depressing decline at the moment.

The whole club needs a lift at the moment after one win in eight games and Sunderland need to provide it this weekend by keeping Bolton in the relegation zone while boosting themselves up the league.

An away point is a good point but we’ve reached the point where nothing short of a win is going to be enough for increasingly disillusioned fans.

READ the full column in Tuesday’s Echo