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Bruce challenges Sunderland players to prove their worth

Sunderland players have been told to justify their existence after the monies spent by owner Ellis Short. The Texan businessman has ploughed millions of pounds into the club, initially to help fund the final phase of then manager Roy Keane's spending spree and more recently to allow Steve Bruce to conduct a major overhaul of the squad he inherited.

Bruce said: "Fair play to the owner. There has been a huge investment in the club, not just in my 12 months, but over the last three years.

"We have got possibly the youngest squad in the Premier League - I have made a conscious effort to do that - and we now need time for them to all settle down and get used to what we want and change the mentality of the club for what we want to do over the next few years.

"The owner has played his part. He has transformed it and it is about time we paid him back."

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