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By ESPN Staff

Bruce backs Muntari to star

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce is backing loan signing Sulley Muntari to pick up where he left off in the Premier League.

Muntari, 26, renewed his acquaintance with English football at Stoke on Saturday after arriving at the Stadium of Light on loan from Inter Milan.

But unlike new team-mate Stephane Sessegnon, who made his second appearance for the club at the Britannia Stadium, Muntari has already had a season in the Premier League - with Portsmouth in 2007-08 - and Bruce believes that experience will prove invaluable.

The manager said: "The good thing about him is he has played in the Premier League and he is used to the Premier League.

"I think he was [Jose] Mourinho's second signing at Inter Milan - and if you look at what he has done there, won the Champions League, won the league twice...

"He is a very, very good player - if you look in those times, he has scored something like 15, 16 goals, so he can bring you a goal, he has got a wand of a left foot.

"He is a very, very good player, so that's what we have brought him in for.

"In an ideal world, I would love to have had him for two or three weeks to get used to the squad and get him up to match fitness, but we might have to throw him in at the deep end and let him swim."

That is exactly what Bruce did on Saturday with Muntari playing 88 minutes of his first game since January 6, and he was off the pitch by the time Stoke snatched their late winner.

The former Manchester United defender was delighted with the newcomer's contribution, and the two men will decide over the next few months whether or not to take up an option to make the move permanent.

Bruce said: "There's an option in there which we have agreed with Sulley. If we take the option up, the agreement is in principle with him, so we hope we can make it permanent, but we will see."

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