Bruce reluctant to return Welbeck

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Steve Bruce is hoping Manchester United counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson will hand him a birthday present by allowing Danny Welbeck to complete a permanent move to Sunderland.

The two men, who go head-to-head at Old Trafford on Boxing Day, share the same birthday, New Year's Eve, and the Black Cats boss is keeping his fingers crossed that Ferguson may grant him his wish after seeing loan signing Welbeck fire his side into the Barclays Premier League's top six after a 1-0 win over Bolton.

Bruce, who admitted the 20-year-old's form was making it more difficult for him to clinch a deal, said: "I always knew that was going to be a problem anyway, deep down, but you never know. Fergie has got a birthday coming up shortly and he might get generous in his old age. I somehow doubt it."

On Welbeck, Bruce added: "He's a fantastic talent, isn't he? You can see that and he has benefited from playing regularly.

"The good thing about him is he has got an infectious enthusiasm about him. He wants to play and train and he has been terrific. Manchester United have got a very good player on their hands."

Welbeck's 32nd-minute strike was enough to claim the points on an afternoon when Sunderland kept their 10th clean sheet of the season and their ninth in the league, despite central defender John Mensah joining Titus Bramble and Michael Turner on the sidelines with an ankle injury which is like to rule him out for up to three weeks.

Bolton came agonisingly close to an equaliser on the stroke of half-time when Gary Cahill headed Matt Taylor's corner back across goal and Zat Knight's shot seemed destined for the back of the net until Craig Gordon somehow got it up and over his crossbar.

Wanderers boss Owen Coyle was disappointed by the result, but not the performance.

He said: "Even at 1-0, I still always believed we would get back into the game. We came out in the second half and in the last 25, 30 minutes, it was like the Alamo. For a team with such a home record, they were really on the back foot and we had numerous chances to get the equaliser, but we never quite got it.

"Am I disappointed? Only by the result, not the performance because we put a team which is unbeaten at home to the sword in the latter stages."

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

Titus Bramble
Michael Turner
Bolton Wanderers
Matt Taylor
Zat Knight
John Mensah
Premier League
Steve Bruce
Danny Welbeck
Manchester United
Gary Cahill
Craig Gordon

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