Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bruce Has Mensah Decision to Make

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bruce Has Mensah Decision to Make

Article excerpt

STEVE Bruce is bracing himself for a difficult decision about John Mensah this summer, writes STUART RAYNER. Sunderland's plans for the next transfer window are already starting to take shape. Ahmed Elmohamady's loan will be made permanent and, if he continues to play as he has done in his first few matches, so will Sulley Muntari's from Inter Milan.

Bruce will step up the search for a left-winger, with Stewart Downing topping a list which also features Charles N'Zogbia and Adam Johnson, and his scouts have been given half a season to identify a replacement for Darren Bent.

But the future of Mensah is far from clear.

Like Elmohamady, the Ghana centre-back is on a season-long loan, his second in succession. Bruce continues to be impressed by the 28-year-old's form, and frustrated by his fitness.

That Mensah has been wearing the Black Cats' colours for the last two season is only down to a chronic back problem which has been the bane of his career.

Lyon decided he was not offering value for money and loaned him out, a calculation Bruce must make again this summer.

Mensah's problem could be solved by an operation but it would involve a very long period out - and without guaranteeing success.

After just 14 Premier League starts last season, Mensah has made just eight this term.

"We have a decision to make on John at some stage and I can tell right now, it's not going to be an easy one," said Bruce.

"He's one of the best defenders I've ever seen when he's fit, but he's often not and you have to decide on where the balance stands in terms of the club getting value for money." Sunderland have a strong central defensive partnership in Titus Bramble and Michael Turner, but lack depth in the position.

Turner's knee injury - which has kept him out since November - and Mensah's ongoing problems mean Anton Ferdinand has made 21 appearances this season, despite Bruce's reservations. …

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