Blackpool Vs Sunderland, Sat 22 Jan 2011

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Blackpool: Kingson, Crainey, Evatt, Cathcart, Eardley, Vaughan, Adam, Grandin, Varney, Taylor-Fletcher, Phillips.

Subs: Rachubka, Southern, Harewood, Ormerod, Baptiste, Euell, Sylvestre.

Sunderland: Gordon, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Bramble, Bardsley, Elmohamady, Henderson, Malbranque, Richardson, Zenden, Gyan.

Subs: Mignolet, Mensah, Angeleri, Da Silva, Riveros, Reid, Colback.

Blackpool boss Ian Holloway can understand Steve Bruce's shock that Darren Bent would want to leave what the manager is building at Sunderland.

Holloway's side play host to the Black Cats, who will be without their top scorer Bent following his decision to join Aston Villa earlier this week.

With the Wearsiders currently sixth in the Barclays Premier League and in the running for European football, Bruce has been left stunned by the striker's defection to a Villa outfit struggling at the opposite end of the table.

Holloway sympathises with his counterpart, describing the way Bruce has taken Sunderland forward since his appointment there in the summer of 2009 as "phenomenal".

Asked what sort of job he felt Bruce had done at the Stadium of Light, Holloway said: "Absolutely terrific, and the shock for him now is that someone would want to leave his club and go somewhere else.

"He is trying to build, grow it and make it better than it has ever been.

"How quickly he is doing it is quite phenomenal, so I think that is what will hurt him more than anything."

He added: "I understand how he might feel, but this is life.

"Any footballer will have his head turned, that is what happens, because you are only in it a short time."

Holloway is having to deal with interest in one of his own star players at the moment in Blackpool captain Charlie Adam, who still has 18 months left to run on his contract.

Villa - who paid #18million rising to #24million for Bent - have had bids of #2.5million and #3.5million for the Scotland midfielder firmly rejected and Holloway has indicated he would only consider letting Adam leave if a substantial offer came in from one of the top flight's biggest sides.

The manager does not want to have to think about it until the season is over, though.

"Realistically, with the choice he (Adam) might have in the summer, our heads might be turned by a huge offer which is so ridiculous, we'd have to accept it," Holloway said.

"But until then, you can't get what you want - you have to work towards getting it.

"Every day that comes closer to the end of the season, Charlie's contract is ticking, so it's all quite simple for me. Everything else is an absolute load of baloney."

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has promised there will be life on Wearside after Bent.

The 50-year-old was stunned, angered and disappointed to lose the man he had seen as a central pillar in his blueprint for lasting success despite raking in #24million for him just 18 months after laying out an initial #10m to secure his services.

Both Bruce and chairman Niall Quinn have had their say over the manner of the former Tottenham man's defection and the race is on to, if not replace him, find short-term reinforcements to plug the gap he left before addressing the situation in more measured fashion during the summer.

However, whatever happens on that front over the next 10 days and beyond, Bruce is adamant that one man did not and never will make his team.

He said: "Make no mistake, any club is bigger than one individual and the club will always - always - march on, and that's my determination.

"Yes, we have had a setback and it's probably our first one in the 20 months I have been here, but we will need to be bigger and stronger.

"Certainly with the money it has generated, it gives me a chance to improve the squad in the long term. But we will have to be a little bit patient for that."

With Fraizer Campbell already on the long-term casualty list, the news that loan signing Danny Welbeck this week underwent surgery to repair a torn knee cartilage which will rule him out for up to eight weeks could hardly have come at a worse time.

That has left record signing Asamoah Gyan as the club's only recognised senior striker, but Northern Ireland international David Healy did play and score for the reserves in midweek following his return from a loan spell at Doncaster.

In the meantime, Bruce and his players will turn their attention to the trip to Blackpool intent on gaining revenge for their shock 2-0 home defeat by the Seasiders on December 28.

Bruce was left scratching his head that day as his side mustered 32 attempts on goal, yet failed to find the back of the net with Bent particularly guilty.

He said: "If we create as many chances, the law of averages will tell you we will take one, so I hope so."

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

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