All Well at Stadium of Light

Sunderland defender Anton Ferdinand is revelling in the chance to prove himself all over again in the club's hour of need.

The 25-year-old turned in an impressive display in the Black Cats' 1-0 win over Bolton yesterday in the midst of a defensive crisis which is deepening by the week.

With first-choice central partnership Titus Bramble and Michael Turner both on the long-term casualty list with knee injuries, John Mensah picked up an ankle injury which is likely to sideline him for up to three weeks.

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Ferdinand started the game alongside Mensah and then teamed up with Nedum Onuoha following the Ghana international's premature departure after his own return from the back-related hamstring problem which forced him off at Fulham last weekend.

The pair were hugely instrumental in Sunderland's tenth clean sheet of the season although they needed a stunning save from keeper Craig Gordon to claim three points which catapulted them into sixth place. Manager Steve Bruce was full of praise for the former West Ham defender, who has re-established himself after a series of niggling injuries and a spectacular summer fall-out with his manager.

Ferdinand said: "All I have asked for is a run of games and I seem to be getting that at the moment. That's what I want to be judged on, not one game here, one game there. It's just nice to know that I am a big part of the team at the moment and needed. That only breeds confidence into a player and that's what it is doing to me." Ferdinand is now in line to test his form against his brother Rio's Manchester United on Boxing Day, although the Black Cats look certain to be without six key players.

Bramble, Turner, Mensah and Fraizer Campbell are all injured, while yesterday's match-winner Danny Welbeck is ineligible under the terms of his loan agreement and skipper Lee Cattermole is suspended after reaching five bookings on top of his two red cards.

Bolton might have taken a ninth-minute lead had Gordon not stuck out a foot to block Kevin Davies' goal-bound shot, and the 9 million man pulled off a breathtaking stop on the stroke of half-time to keep out Zat Knight's close-range effort.

Coyle said: "Craig Gordon produced a truly outstanding save on the stroke of half-time. That's why he's there, that's why you pay 9 million for a goalkeeper, because he has that quality."

In the meantime, the home side had taken the lead with Welbeck's fifth goal of the season. Darren Bent controlled a cross at the far post and saw his shot parried by Jussi Jaaskelainen, but the 20-year-old stooped to head the rebound home.

Sunderland leapfrogged Bolton to go level on points with fifth-placed Tottenham, while Wanderers slipped to seventh ahead of West Brom's visit to the Reebok Stadium on Boxing Day.