SUNDERLAND manager Steve Bruce believes goalkeeper Craig Gordon was nearing his best form before being "devastated" by injury this month.
Gordon faces three months on the sidelines after breaking his arm in a challenge with Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe a fortnight ago.
The Scotland international has not lived up to his reputation from north of the border since his 9million move from Hearts two years ago, but Bruce has been impressed with the 26-year-old this term. Bruce said: "I was absolutely delighted with his form. He was starting to look like the goalkeeper we paid all that money for.
"Of course he's upset, he's got a broken arm. He's had an operation to have a plate inserted and he's in plaster. To have him out for three months is a big blow. He is devastated with what happened but he will get over it."
Defoe has apologised for the incident via Sunderland striker Darren Bent, his England team-mate and insisted the clash was accidental. Bruce added: "He certainly caught him, whether he can get out of the road only Jermain Defoe will know that – but he certainly caught him."