The Sunderland manager, Steve Bruce, is happy to deal with a dilemma when he sits down to pick his team to face Evertontomorrow about whether to recall the club's leading scorer, Darren Bent, who returned to training last week after overcoming a hamstring injury which prevented him from maintaining his ever-present tag this season.
The injury prevented the striker from lining up against Stoke, Tottenham and Chelsea as Sunderland attempted to bounce back from their 5-1 derby defeat by Newcastle. Bruce has spent much of the time since he signed the former Spurs striker for £10m worrying about what would happen if he were ever missing.
However, his fears have been dismissed over the past three games, which have seen the record signing Asamoah Gyan take up Bent's mantle and score four times. With Danny Welbeck having opened his season's account with the final goal in Sunderland's 3-0 victory at Chelsea last Sunday, Bruce finds himself in the enviable position of having three in-form strikers vying for two starting places, and he could hardly be more pleased.
"Darren has been fantastic for 18 months. It gives me an awful headache," he said. "When he was our only recognised striker, the owner [Ellis Short] dug deep and we managed to bring in Asamoah. When Darren did get injured, he took up the mantle and he came to the plate just when we needed him. I am delighted with the kid. He will give me a hell of a selection headache but those are the kind of decisions you enjoy making."
His Everton counterpart, David Moyes, is impressed how quickly Bruce has revived Sunderland – but must now stop them in their tracks. The mood on Wearside was bleak last month but far from dwelling on the embarrassment of what happened at St James' Park, Sunderland have hit back with a three-game unbeaten run.
"[Beating Chelsea] was a great result for Sunderland," said Moyes. "After the Newcastle game I think a lot of people were ridiculing them and putting them down, but there is only one way back and that is to go out and do it on the field. Steve has turned them around very quickly.
"But I don't think they were ever a bad team. They had a bad result but they made sure they put that right. As a manager you now want a similar performance – but we don't want them to have a similar performance. We need to go there and be hard to play against and cause them problems. I am sure Steve will probably be thinking if he could get more of the same from his team that is all he could ask." PA