Bent hands Bruce 'hell of a selection headache'

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The Independent Football

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce faces an enviable selection problem for the visit of Everton tonight with striker Darren Bent in contention to return after three weeks out with a hamstring injury.

The stand-in strike force of Asamoah Gyan and Danny Welbeck have scored five goals in three games in Bent's absence, and the England international could struggle to regain his place at the Stadium of Light tonight.

"The more good players we have got available, terrific," Bruce said. "He will give me a hell of a selection headache, but those are the kind of decisions you enjoy making."

Bent has scored eight goals in 10 games for the Black Cats this season and, prior to the surprise 3-0 win at Chelsea eight days ago, the 26-year-old was one of only two Sunderland players to have found the net this season, along with Gyan.

"Darren has been fantastic for 18 months. It gives me an awful headache. When he was our only recognised striker, the owner [Ellis Short] dug deep and we managed to bring in Asamoah. When Darren was injured, Gyan took up the mantle just when we needed him. I am delighted with the kid."

Last month's 5-1 derby thrashing at Newcastle remains Sunderland's only league defeat in 11 matches and Bruce is confident of extending that run. "We have been playing well. We have to maintain those standards. We have to improve and make sure the performance is good."

Everton themselves have suffered striking problems this campaign, their forwards scoring only two league goals – one each from Ayegbeni Yakubu and Jermaine Beckford. Their manager, David Moyes, remains interested in the possibility of re-signing the LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan on loan. "We would be [interested]," Moyes confirmed. "We have said it every time I get asked." The Toffees are without Marouane Fellaini, who serves the second game of a three-match suspension.