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Premier League

Sunderland are too smart to sack Bruce, says Hodgson

The West Bromwich manager Roy Hodgson believes the Sunderland board will keep their nerve and continue to back manager Steve Bruce despite the Wearsiders' poor start to the season. Hodgson's team, second bottom of the Premier League with just four points from six games, travel to the Stadium of Light tomorrow for a game neither side can afford to lose.

Should Albion take a point, the pressure will inevitably increase on Bruce after his summer spending spree. But Hodgson said: "Steve is a good manager and has done a remarkable job wherever he has been. I think he and the club are more than strong enough to withstand whispers and rumours.

"It would surprise me if a club like Sunderland had any knee-jerk reaction. It is still early days in the season and Steve is in the throes of putting together a new team because, in the transfer market, he was very active this year. We all know it takes time to gel together."

Hodgson added: "I think the itchy-finger syndrome is with us all the time in football. We are used to that but only hope the people in football who make decisions make good ones."

Hodgson himself is backing striker Peter Odemwingie to recapture last season's form sooner rather than later. The Nigerian scored 15 times in his debut season for Albion but has been on target only once in an injury-hit start to this campaign and squandered a golden chance during the goalless draw with Fulham. Hodgson said: "It is early days. He is playing very well in training. Like everything else, if a forward scores a goal from a goal chance, then he is said to be playing fantastically well. If he misses the goal chance, he is said to be having a bad time.

"That is what forwards have to live with. But we are quite happy with Peter. He looks very lively, very fit and we hope we can keep him fit for the next 30-odd games."

Meanwhile, tomorrow's visit of Newcastle to Molineux has the Wolves manager Mick McCarthy gnashing his teeth over the "disappointment and frustration" he and his players feel at their recent slump following a fine start to the campaign.

Wolves picked up seven points from the opening three games and twice briefly held top position. But three successive losses, including an inept display in the 3-0 home defeat against QPR, have taken the spring from their step.

McCarthy admitted: "You can't say if you've lost three on the bounce, that there's no negative reaction. It would be crazy to ask anybody to believe otherwise but it's the amount of it [negative reaction] that's important.

"There's disappointment and frustration and I guess a bit of anger between all of us – not at each other, but with themselves, for not performing as well as we could. I know that because I used to get it as a player as well."

At least there was good news about striker Steven Fletcher, who is over the groin problem which restricted him to a substitute's role in last weekend's 2-1 defeat at Anfield.