Bruce challenges Steed

Black Cats boss wants midfield to ease goalscoring burden

Malbranque: Challenged to improve goalscoring

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Sunderland boss Steve Bruce is pinning his hopes on Steed Malbranque easing their striking problems.

Malbranque enjoyed a good goalscoring record with Fulham and Tottenham, but in three seasons on Wearside he has only scored one Premier League goal in the 4-1 win over Hull in December 2008

With Fraizer Campbell, Danny Welbeck and Asamoah Gyan injured and all expected to miss the rest of the season, Sunderland started Saturday's defeat to Fulham without a striker and Bruce is looking for Malbranque to chip in with a few goals.

"It's quite incredible. I saw the other day that (Clint) Dempsey overtook Steed as Fulham's all-time Premier League top goalscorer with 33 goals," said Bruce.

"He went to Tottenham and got goals, seven or eight a season, and to be fair that's probably what Roy bought him for.

Fantastic little player

"He's a fantastic little player who gives you everything he's got but since he came to Sunderland I think he's got one Premier League goal in three years.

"It's a difficulty when you're looking for a goal and somebody of his ability, when he's running through you think surely this is the day. He didn't take it.

"We had four or five (great chances) and that's all you're going to really get in the Premier League. We needed to take one and unfortunately we couldn't."