Saturday 17 March 2018

Bruce puts defence top of agenda after Pompey defeat


Sunderland manager Steve Bruce is desperate to strengthen his defensive options before the January transfer window closes after seeing his Black Cats dumped out of the FA Cup by basement club Portsmouth.

Darren Bent's opener for the visitors after 15 minutes was cancelled out by a brace from Pompey midfielder John Utaka.

Bruce's side have now conceded 16 goals in their last six games in all competitions and the Wearsiders are also without a Premier League win since their 1-0 triumph over Arsenal on November 21.

The former Manchester United defender has already signed Matthew Kilgallon from Sheffield United to bolster his defence and saw Michael Turner come back after a four-game ban on Saturday.

But with Anton Ferdinand and Nyron Nosworthy still sidelined with injuries and George McCartney suffering with a virus, Bruce may re-enter the transfer market.

He said: "That's where we have to improve. Obviously with the injuries to Nosworthy and Ferdinand, we are very, very short at the moment. We're chipping away at various different things and whether something will progress in the next few days, I'm not so sure. But we'll keep trying."

While Bruce has been linked with bringing defenders into the club, striker Kenwyne Jones has been the subject of intense speculation over a possible move to Liverpool.

The Trinidad and Tobago star struggled to make an impact at Fratton Park and his manager was hardly blown away by his performance.

But he is hopeful Jones will focus on his role with the Black Cats and put talk of a move to one side.

Bruce said: "It has been difficult for Kenwyne in the last couple of weeks. What has happened with Liverpool and the question of whether we're going to loan him is quite upsetting.

"But I think I've said my piece about that and it won't happen -- that's for sure."

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport