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Bruce vows to continue bargain hunting

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has vowed not to squander the club's money as he attempts to strengthen his squad this summer.

Bruce has been heavily backed by owner Ellis Short during his two years on Wearside, but has always had to fully justify his investment as the free-spending of the Roy Keane era was brought under tighter control.

The Black Cats will continue their limp towards the Premier League finishing line against relegation-threatened Wolves today with injuries still decimating the squad and underlining the need for reinforcements.

However, they will do so after sending loan signing Sulley Muntari back to Inter Milan before another appearance for the club triggered a permanent deal.

Bruce faces starting next season without the likes of Craig Gordon, Michael Turner, David Meyler and Fraizer Campbell, and John Mensah, Nedum Onuoha and Danny Welbeck are still to learn whether their loan deals will develop into anything more permanent.

But the manager said: "It would be unfair of me to go to the owner and say, 'Right, I need nine players and I need another £100m'. It's not as easy as that.

"We have got to look at the situation very, very carefully and closely and to be fair, that's what you are paid your money for."

Muntari made nine appearances for the club after arriving in January, but struggled to find the kind of form to convince Bruce and chairman Niall Quinn he was worth a weekly wage packet understood to amount to around £70,000.

The manager hinted that a deal could be struck at a later stage if the terms were more favourable, but it appears that would take considerable movement.

Bruce said: "He is a good pro and he is a good player, a very good player, but we have made that decision at the moment. Who knows? Later on, we might address that.

"I have always prided myself that you have to get good value for money. It is part of good management -- it certainly is part of my remit too, of course, that you have to look after the club as well.

"It's a disappointment because I could have done with him for the last couple of games, but if we had played him, it would have triggered the automatic clause which was in there and at this time, it's too rich."

Muntari's absence, along with that of hamstring victim Anton Ferdinand, will leave Bruce without an entire starting XI for tomorrow's game -- indeed, he admitted he may not even be able to fill the bench.

However, it may allow youngsters such as Ryan Noble, Billy Knott and Craig Lynch to attempt to follow in the footsteps of fellow Academy graduate Jack Colback, who has established himself as a genuine first-team player in recent weeks.

Irish Independent