DAVID Vaughan admits Nicklas Bendtner’s return will be a welcome one for Sunderland’s crunch trip to fellow strugglers Bolton.
On-loan striker Bendtner was ineligible to face parent club Arsenal last weekend, but is expected to earn an instant recall for Saturday’s trip to third bottom Bolton, lying just a place below Sunderland in the Premier League table.
Black Cats boss Steve Bruce opted to use Stephane Sessegnon as a lone striker in Bendtner’s absence, rather than hand a first start to summer arrivals Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-won.
But Welsh midfielder Vaughan, who took the Dane’s starting spot at the Emirates, believes Sessegnon benefits from playing alongside a more orthodox frontman, with Bendtner thriving for the Black Cats since arriving on a season-long loan.
Vaughan told the Echo: “It was a massive blow to lose Bendtner because he’s a really good player and he plays that role well.
“He’s made a big difference to the team since he’s arrived with the quality that he’s got. He works hard as well so it will be a welcome return to have him back on Saturday.
“Sess showed at Arsenal that he can do the job up there. He worked hard and gave their defenders some problems.
“But he needs someone up there to help him out really and hopefully Nicklas can do that when he returns.”
Sunderland and Bolton have endured a similarly harrowing 2011 after both were well-placed to challenge the top six at the turn of the year.
The hangover from their respective slumps during the second half of last season has rolled over, with both sides taking a modest six points from the opening eight games.
While Bolton will be buoyed by last weekend’s victory at local rivals Wigan, Sunderland head to the Reebok Stadium on the back of a third defeat in five.
But former Blackpool man Vaughan insists Bruce’s side retain their self-belief after running Arsenal close at the Emirates.
“I think the belief is there. We’re not playing as well as we can, but we’re not doing too badly,” added Vaughan, who returned to the side at Arsenal after missing the previous encounter against West Brom through illness.
“The performances are getting there and we just need time for everyone to find their feet. We’re not that far away at the moment.
“It’s a massive game against Bolton, they’ve not got off to the best of starts like us.
“Once you get into a little run, it’s difficult to get out of it.
“I found that out at Blackpool last season, we did a similar kind of thing.
“Hopefully we can start showing it on the pitch and get some good results.”