Watch Sunderland vs. Birmingham Live Stream Soccer August 14 Barclays Premier League 2010

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce will make a late decision on Darren Bent's fitness ahead of the Barclays Premier League opener against Birmingham at the Stadium of Light.

The striker had to withdraw from the England squad in midweek following a back spasm and Bruce rates him as 50/50.Watch Sunderland vs. Birmingham Live Stream Soccer August 14 Barclays Premier League 2010

If Bent is not fit then new signing Danny Welbeck and youngster Martyn Waghorn will hope to start up front while Simon Mignolet is certain to be given the nod in goal with Craig Gordon sidelined by a broken arm.

Titus Bramble, Nedum Onouha, Marcos Angeleri, Paulo da Silva and Cristian Riveros will all hope to make their debuts but Andy Reid (Achilles) is out and George McCartney and Anton Ferdinand have not been given squad numbers.
Bruce is confident his side can put a "terrible'' pre-season behind them as they begin their quest for a top-10 place.

Bruce has seen injuries and the World Cup disrupt his plans while the Black Cats have been one of the busier clubs in the transfer market, with eight players in and seven out.

He said: "There's always a feelgood factor at the start of the season. It's been a difficult pre-season with the World Cup, with injuries and transfers and all the rest of it.

"But there's nothing quite like the first game of the season and, even though we've had a terrible July and August, they'll be hot and we'll look forward to the challenge again.''Watch Sunderland vs. Birmingham Live Stream Soccer August 14 Barclays Premier League 2010

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish is hopeful goalkeeper Ben Foster will have recovered from the back spasm suffered on England duty to make his debut.

City's other major summer signing, Serbia striker Nikola Zigic, is also included in the squad.

Defender Stuart Parnaby has been declared fit after sustaining a hamstring injury 10 days ago meaning veteran striker Kevin Phillips is the only major absentee with the torn thigh muscle which will sideline him for four to six weeks.

McLeish knows the importance of Blues making a positive start to the campaign.

He said: "It is a tough away game, a tough start. We are at a loss as to why six of the last seven times in the Premier League, we've had our first fixture away from home.

"I can't understand that. If that is all about the luck of the computer, then we must be one unlucky team.

"But saying that, if we can get off to a flying start away from home, that will be fantastic for confidence.

"We've got to go up there and look to perform the way we did in the second half of the last game against Sunderland.'''


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