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Bent back for Sunderland ahead of schedule

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has been handed a bonus with the news in-form Sunderland striker Darren Bent could be back in harness this weekend. Bruce admitted on Tuesday he feared he could be without Bent for up to three weeks after he limped away from Saturday's 1-0 Premier League victory over Arsenal with a tight hamstring.

Bruce said: "Darren came on to the training ground on Thursday morning and worked with the physios.

"He worked in the gym on Wednesday and if he doesn't have a reaction from the work he has done, then he has got an outstanding chance to be involved.

"The scans have revealed that there is no real tear there, so it was probably a matter of cramp and tightness.

"We will see how he is on Friday, but that would obviously be a huge boost to us all if I have got him available."

Bruce said: "It's delightful. We were thinking at the beginning of the week that he was going to be out for at least three weeks with the slightest hamstring strain.

"With a muscle injury, you can't take any chances, so to see him bounding around the training ground today was fantastic news for us as a club because he is playing at the top of his game and performing very, very well."

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