Bent calls on Sunderland to strengthen front line

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The Independent Football

Sunderland striker Darren Bent is hoping the club will bring in some new recruits after firing his side to their first victory of the season.

Bent's double handed the Black Cats a 2-0 Carling Cup second-round win over Colchester on Tuesday night, although they head into Sunday's encounter with Manchester City having taken just a single point from their first two Premier League games.

The Sunderland manager, Steve Bruce, is still desperate to strengthen his squad during the remaining few days of the transfer window with a top-class replacement for Bent's strike partner Kenwyne Jones, who left for Stoke in an £8m move earlier this month, a priority.

Sunderland have been linked, with differing degrees of accuracy, with the likes of Ghana international Asamoah Gyan and England duo Peter Crouch and Carlton Cole in recent weeks.

However, while there is money available, the club's owner, Ellis Short, and chairman, Niall Quinn, are refusing to pay over the odds.

That has left Bruce facing a race against the clock, and while Bent is confident Fraizer Campbell is ready to take up the challenge with support from youngsters Danny Welbeck and Martyn Waghorn, he is hoping for a breakthrough in the difficult summer market.

Bent said: "Hopefully, the gaffer can make one or two additions to the squad before the transfer window closes next week.

"I think we have got a strong squad to take into the new year, but one or two new faces never do any harm and I'm sure the manager has his targets."

Quinn, unusually, was not at the Stadium of Light for Tuesday night's game as he met with the Fifa delegation which visited Wearside yesterday morning to run the rule over the city's bid to host World Cup football in 2018. However, he remains confident of better things after an indifferent start to the new campaign.

He said: "We will get ourselves on track on the pitch now. Darren got us a couple of goals, which I missed – I might not be allowed to come on Sunday now because the guys won without me last night. There are, hopefully, some good times around the corner for us." Asked if he was expecting a phone call from Bruce as the World Cup inspectors headed for neighbouring Newcastle, he added with a smile: "I think I have missed a couple of calls already."

Whatever happens on the transfer front during the next week, Bruce and his players know they will have to be significantly better than they have been to date if they are to achieve their aim of pushing into the top 10 and challenging the teams competing for European qualification.

They eased their way into the Carling Cup third round without being at anywhere near their best, the form of young goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and the game time that the likes of Lee Cattermole, Michael Turner, Titus Bramble and Andy Reid got under their belts in the process, representing the only major positives for Bruce to take from the game.

Bent scored 25 goals last season, his first on Wearside, but the two he collected on Tuesday night to add to his opening day strike against Birmingham – he is the only Sunderland man to register to date in the campaign – came gift-wrapped.

Colchester keeper Mark Cousins' 20th-minute misjudgment allowed Bent to head home his first, and when Cousins compounded his error by dropping a Bolo Zenden free-kick at the striker's feet 17 minutes later, the result was the same.

Bent said: "Obviously, I'm the only player to score a goal so far, but I'm sure that will change. We have got creative players who can make and score goals and, hopefully, they will weigh in with their fair share."