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Cattermole, Welbeck close to Sunderland return

Sunderland could receive a double boost with Danny Welbeck and Lee Cattermole likely starters against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.

Both players are expected to be in the starting line-up at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon with Cattermole shaking off a back problem and Welbeck a neck strain.

But Sunderland will definitely be without defender Nedum Onuoha, while record signing Asamoah Gyan is also not expected to feature.

Bruce blames the casualties on a punishing round of festive fixtures which he publicly criticised on Boxing Day.

The biggest culprit, says Bruce, has been the scheduling of two games within 48 hours – the away trip to Manchester United on Boxing Day and the game against Blackpool on December 28.

“It’s not something any of us should have to deal with, to be fair,” Bruce said. “It’s a nonsense.”

“Welbeck has got a neck problem but we think he will be fine. Cattermole has suffered the same kind of hamstring and back problem that he had last season.”

“I’m not ruling Catts out at this stage though, because hopefully he will be fit, as will Danny.”

“As for Nedum, he is definitely out, hopefully for not much more than a week.”

“And Asamoah is struggling with a series of knocks at the moment, and the hamstring is just the latest.”

“I think he struggled to play two games in the space of 48 hours, because it’s not something he has ever had to deal with in his career before.”

“You just can’t ask players to play two games in that short a space of time – not at the kind of intensity required in the Premier League, anyway.”

“Players are going to pick up injuries, and that’s exactly what has happened.”

After having 33 attempts on goal against Blackpool in midweek, Bruce is expecting a complete contrast against Blackburn.

Bruce said: “You couldn’t have had a much more open team than Blackpool.”

“They give it a go but they also leave themselves exposed at the back when they do that.”

“We exploited that fact fantastically – we just couldn’t do the final part and put the ball in the back of the net.”

“I don’t expect it to be a particularly exciting and open game. It’s likely to be hard-fought and difficult but we’re determined to finish the year on a high.”

Fri 31 Dec, 2010
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