Sunderland manager Steve Bruce: We would be reluctant to sign players from African nations

The former Manchester United centre-back insists that the Black Cats simply cannot afford to lose players to the African Cup of Nations, particularly at a busy time of the season
Steve Bruce has revealed that he is “reluctant” to sign any players who are likely to be involved in the African Cup of Nations because of the amount of Premier League games they will miss with the tournament scheduled for 21 January to 12 February 2012.

The Black Cats suffered a poor spell in the second half of last season where they failed to win a single game in February or March as they struggled with injuries to several key players.

Bruce is keen to avoid such a collapse next season and the Black Cats boss admitted that whilst a player’s nationality is not normally a factor, it would be something he would take notice of this summer.

"When you are choosing players, you never consider their nationality, only the question of whether they're good enough and that's still the case with us,” he told the Sunderland Echo.

"But certainly, as things stand, we would be reluctant to sign players from African nations because, looking ahead to next season, it would be a real worry.”

Sunderland look set to lose striker Asamoah Gyan to the tournament as things stand and Bruce admitted that the timing of the competition does make life difficult for Premier League clubs.

"The competition also comes at a time - end of January, beginning of February - where it's a really testing time for your squad anyway,” he added.

"If we had the same injury crisis next year as this year and then lost half-a-dozen players to Africa for three weeks, we really would be goosed!

"I'm aware of the situation and it's something we've addressed - you don't want to lose a load of players at one fell swoop."

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