Bruce questions legality of transfer window

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The Independent Football

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has predicted it will be only a matter of time before a player challenges the transfer window system as a restriction of trade.

The Black Cats faced an anxious wait to see if they had landed Manchester City striker Benjani Mwaruwari on loan earlier this week after communications problems left the Football Association and the Barclays Premier League to make a decision on whether or not the deal had gone through in a mad rush before Monday's 5pm deadline.

Bruce believes the 31-year-old Zimbabwe international could have been a case in point had he not managed to secure a temporary move to the Stadium of Light.

He said: "I wouldn't be surprised if a player stops it by saying it's a restriction of trade.

"Take Benjani for example: Benjani has come up here now to try to earn himself a contract. If the deal hadn't gone through, then it restricts his career, it restricts his movement.

"That's why we carry the squads we carry. They are too big and we can't keep them all happy."

Bruce, however, was delighted to have landed Benjani at the end of a transfer window which saw him frustrated in moves for the likes of Kevin Kuranyi, Maynor Figueroa and Habib Beye.

He moved for the City frontman after deciding to allow David Healy and Daryl Murphy to join former boss Roy Keane on loan at Ipswich.

Bruce said: "In the back of my mind, I knew there was a deal for Murphy and Healy and with the injuries we have had, I was juggling thinking, 'Do I let Murphy and Healy go?' because the one thing they want to do is go and play football and they weren't going to play here.

"I thought to myself, 'If I am going to do that, I have got to bring somebody in'.

"I wanted somebody with a bit of know-how and a bit of presence, and somebody who as been there, done it and worn the t-shirt in the Premier League, and I am delighted we got Benjani in the finish."

Bruce insisted all along that he wanted Benjani - or indeed any striker he brought in - to compete with, rather than replace, Kenwyne Jones amid fevered speculation over the Trinidad and Tobago international and Liverpool.

With the window now closed and Jones still a Sunderland player, Bruce is hoping he can regain the sort of form which once led Keane to value him at £40million, starting with Saturday's vital league clash with Wigan.

He said: "We all know he is a good player, and now my aim is to turn him around again to be Sunderland's centre-forward.

"If Kenwyne Jones plays well on Saturday, I know the team will respond to it.

"My aim is to make sure he hits the level of performance that makes him a very, very good player.

"There have been times this season when, yes, he hasn't hit the heights - he can understand that himself.

"But the last thing I ever wanted to do was to ship him out somewhere, especially on loan.

"He must have looked at that and there constant speculation and thought, 'Hang on a minute, if he is allowing me to go out on loan, there is probably something drastically wrong'.

"It's taken some getting through to him, but hopefully we are there and the window has gone and this loan thing has gone away and he can just concentrate on being Kenwyne Jones again."