Bent boost for Black Cats

But Bruce has fitness worries over several first-team players

Bent: Set to face West Ham

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Steve Bruce expects Darren Bent to be fit for Sunderland's game against West Ham United, but has doubts over several players for Saturday's fixture.

Bent missed the Carling Cup penalty shoot-out defeat by Aston Villa on Tuesday night after picking up a knee injury in last weekend's 2-1 loss at Birmingham.

However, the Black Cats' leading scorer has now returned to training and is in line to start against the Hammers at the Stadium of Light.

"He should be alright for the weekend," Bruce told the Sunderland Echo.

"We didn't take any risks with him during the week and it's mainly been rest and recuperation for him because he jarred his knee badly in the game.

"But he's responded well and I expect him to be available for what is an important game to us."

Options

The Sunderland boss, however, will be without Bolo Zenden and John Mensah against West Ham, and is also sweating over the fitness of George McCartney, Phil Bardsley and Fraizer Campbell.

He added: "None of the injuries are serious long term and I would expect to have them all back in the space of the next two or three weeks.

"But in terms of Saturday's game against West Ham I would say that Zenden and Mensah have got no chance.

"Bardsley, McCartney and Campbell are real doubts for the West Ham game.

"They're unlikely to play at this stage, but we've still got 48 hours before the game and we'll have to see how it goes from there.

"The squad is not the biggest, as everyone knows, but the fact that we should have Darren Bent back is a real boost and we do have options available in terms of who we select for midfield and defence."