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The Black Cats' £8 million summer signing gets his first Premier League goal as the North East club battle to a point at the Stadium of Light

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has praised teenage striker Connor Wickham after the £8 million summer signing grabbed his first Premier League goal in the Black Cats 2-2 draw with Aston Villa.

The Wearsiders came from behind to twice to share the points with Alex McLeish’s side with Stephane Sessegnon grabbing a late equaliser in the 89th minute to send the Stadium of Light into raptures.

Reflecting on the match, Bruce told reporters: “Wickham's is a great strike with his left-foot, it’s his wrong foot. It will do him the world of good.

"There’s not many people that score goals in the Premier League at 18 years old. I think you can all see his potential - he can only get better. He was playing against two really good centre-backs today in Collins and Dunne. For me he did very wel, so that can only be pleasing.”

Former Sunderland striker Darren Bent made his first return to Wearside since his controversial £24 million move to the Villans in January and endured a tough reception from the Black Cats supporters.

The England international could have given his side the win but missed a glorious chance from six yards as his effort was well saved by substitute keeper Kieren Westwood.

The Irish keeper replaced the injured Simon Mignolet in the second half and Bruce was delighted with his performance, considering it was his first game since August.

He added: “Thankfully for Westy [Keiron Westwood], I must say well done to him.

"He’s been waiting very patiently he’s trained fantastically well for weeks and weeks now and hasn’t had a chance.

"But thankfully today all that hard work he’s done has paid off because sod's law, otherwise that was going to be the headlines wasn’t it?

“So he’s pulled off a great save. You always think Bent is going to get a chance - that’s what he thrives on. Thankfully Westy’s saved us all today and made sure he hasn’t got the headlines.”

Bruce is also delighted with the determination his side have shown in recent weeks to bounce back from going behind in what he admitted was another tough game for his team.

He said: “It’s one thing we cannot deny. We’ve been up against it recently against West Brom, away at Arsenal and now here. We’ve done something about it thankfully, which was pleasing.

“I have to say I thought a draw was a fair result. I thought we edged the first half and Villa the second. They changed their system a little bit with the extra man in midfield and it caused us a few problems.

“I thought it was difficult. Aston Villa played very well - they’ve got good pace with Gabriel Agbonlahor, Bent and Charles N’Zogbia.

“It was good that we got back in it. Not often when you’re 2-1 down with three minutes to go do you get a goal back. Thankfully today we’ve shown a bit of resilience and spirit and got a result which was excellent.”

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