Sunderland Vs Manchester City, Sun 29 Aug 2010

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Sunderland will be without defender Nedum Onuoha for the visit of Manchester City to the Stadium of Light.

Onuoha is ineligible under the terms of his loan agreement with City and Anton Ferdinand and Phil Bardsley will be among those hoping to replace him.

Manager Steve Bruce otherwise has no fresh selection problems with John Mensah (hamstring), George McCartney (ankle), Craig Gordon (fractured arm) and David Meyler (knee) still on the sidelines.

Sunderland striker Darren Bent is determined to make up for a lost opportunity as he sets his targets for the new season.

The 26-year-old plundered 25 goals during his first campaign on Wearside to put the Black Cats within touching distance of a top-10 Barclays Premier League finish.

However, a winter slump and a tame conclusion to the season saw them end up in 13th place, an improvement on the previous two but significantly short of where they felt they should have been.

But they do not intend to miss out a second time, despite a lukewarm start to the new campaign which saw them surrender a 2-0 lead to take just a point from Birmingham in their opening fixture and lost 1-0 at West Brom last Saturday.

Bent, who will test his potency against City at the Stadium of Light, said: "It's funny because we should have finished so much higher than we did.

"Some of our performances last season - Arsenal at home, we were brilliant, Liverpool at home, Manchester United away, they were all big, big performances we put in.

"But we just let ourselves down at times with silly sending-offs and maybe a lack of concentration towards the end of games and conceding late goals. After what happened to us last season, we are definitely capable of a top-10 finish.

"A lot of people last season maybe got a bit carried away when we had played six games and won three out of the six.

"Everyone was saying, 'They have got to finish in the top seven, the top eight' - and that for a team that had nearly been relegated the season before was a bit much.

"But this season, we have got expectations. We want to finish in the top 10 and I am sure we can do that."

Manchester City midfielder James Milner will return to the squad.

Milner sat out the Europa League victory over Timosoara as he was not registered in time.

Striker Mario Balotelli could be back after a knee problem but Aleksandar Kolarov, Jerome Boateng and Wayne Bridge remain sidelined through injuryJames Milner has warned Manchester City can expect a rough ride at Sunderland.

The former Aston Villa midfielder had a debut to remember with his new side as they secured a comfortable 3-0 victory over Liverpool.

He then sat out the Europa League win over Timisoara in midweek as he was not registered in time to play.

Milner, who played for Newcastle earlier in his career, believes City may be in for a different kind of challenge when they ship up at the Stadium of Light.

He said: "Steve Bruce always has his teams settled very well. He is a good manager and they had good spells last season.

"The north-east is always a tough place to go and they create a great atmosphere. It is a very good place to play football.

"It is up to us to get on top of them early in the game because if they start well and get a goal in front with the crowd behind them it can be tough.

"Hopefully we can get out of the blocks quickly, put in a good performance and get the right result."

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