Sunderland boss Steve Bruce: Team bonding has helped a lot

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce is confident an unbreakable team spirit will fire the Black Cats up the Premier League table ahead of tonight's trip to Norwich.

Bruce reveals a spot of bonding last week has brought his new-look squad even closer together following a welcome opening league win of the season against Stoke.

Sunderland's players went go-karting following that 4-0 victory against the Potters before sharing a meal that reportedly saw one of the close season arrivals, Craig Gardner, pick up a four-figure tab.

'I was delighted to see them all going out together this week,' he said. 'They went for a Japanese meal. Where they went after that, God only knows, but they all came back in one piece. That's good – it's part and parcel of being in a team.

'I believe they came to an agreement that they would all throw their credit cards in and whoever's came out would buy the meal for everyone else. I'm told that Gardner's came out - he paid for it. I'm only glad that it wasn't poor Jack Colback. He was sweating about it.

'It's not just ability in terms of the squad I've got now, they're also a really good bunch who want to do well. I'm delighted with the characters I've brought in. Your (Seb) Larssons, Gardners, (David) Vaughans, (Keiren) Westwoods, (Wes) Browns and (John) O'Sheas are a manager's dream. That was uppermost in my decision making. We needed to have a nucleus of players who were sound.'

Bruce has also paid tribute to skipper Lee Cattermole for his response to being dropped for the first time in his Wearside career against Stoke.

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'He's still been every inch the captain out on the training pitch this week, 100 per cent,' he said. 'He took it like a man, even though he was disappointed. He understood the decision and he'll still have a huge part to play. He'll come back better for this.

'The big thing with Lee is getting him back to full fitness. He's had two serious injuries in the last 18 months and my job is to pick a team that can win a match. If that means leaving out the captain then so be it. It's difficult because I like him, as a player and a lad. He epitomises everything I like in a footballer. He gets himself into trouble at times with his exuberance, we know that, but he'll be okay.'

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