Sunderland Vs Bolton Wanderers, Sat 18 Dec 2010

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Anton Ferdinand has failed in his bid to be fit for Sunderland's Barclays Premier League clash with Bolton, meaning Steve Bruce will be without three centre-backs.

Titus Bramble and Michael Turner are out until the New Year, and it looked like the Black Cats' injury curse had struck again when Ferdinand pulled up in last week's 0-0 draw at Fulham with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

Further examination revealed the 25-year-old's problem may instead have been caused by a back spasm and Bruce had hoped he would be able to play at the Stadium of Light, but he has now been ruled out.

Goalkeeper Craig Gordon will return after missing last week with a hamstring problem while Asamoah Gyan (toe) is also fit, but Boudewijn Zenden (concussion) is a doubt and Fraizer Campbell (knee) remains a long-term absentee.

Bruce has stoked the fires ahead of the clashby claiming the Trotters' style of play has not changed under manager Owen Coyle.

The Scot has earned numerous plaudits for transforming Bolton in the 11 months since he succeeded Gary Megson, including making them a more attractive side to watch.

The Trotters go into the encounter sitting in sixth place, two points and one place ahead of their opponents.

But, while Bruce is prepared to give Coyle plenty of praise for the job he has done at the Reebok Stadium, he still believes they rely largely on the long-ball tactics they have been renowned for since promotion to the Premier League 10 seasons ago.

The Sunderland boss said: "I've just watched two videos of them, and I still think they can get it forward quickly to (Johan) Elmander and (Kevin) Davies. And why not?

"They've got Stuart Holden and (Fabrice) Muamba in the middle of the park, and in the wide areas (Martin) Petrov and the Korean boy (Lee Chung-yong) have got a bit of quality about them.

"Hats off to them. Owen's done a smashing job but I don't think they're playing that much different. If that's disrespectful to them, then I'll take that."

Bolton will be without Mark Davies, who is suspended following his sending-off in the 2-1 victory over Blackburn on Sunday, so Fabrice Muamba is expected to return to the starting line-up.

Otherwise, Coyle should have the same squad to choose from as he did for the game against Rovers.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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