STEVE BRUCE will wait until the end of the month before naming his captain for the season, in the hope that his summer-long pursuit of Richard Dunne has a fruitful end.

Danny Collins, skipper duties pre-season, is expected to be handed the armband again at Bolton today, but the likelihood is that a new face will take on that responsibility within the next few weeks.

Dunne has been Bruce’s top defensive target all summer and is expected to quit Manchester City once they have brought in a suitable replacement.

A season-long loan deal for Lyon centre-back John Mensah is expected to be completed early next week, but the failure to agree a deal for £5mrated Dunne has opened the door for Aston Villa.

Villa’s emergence could mean that Bruce will have to step up his pursuit of Portsmouth’s Sylvain Distin.

Bruce, also interested in Lucas Neill, said: “I will wait until before the transfer window closes before naming my captain. I would prefer somebody at the back.

“That’s because you can see from the back better. We have a couple of irons in the fire for a certain individual and he might be the captain. If I can bring him in we will see what develops.

“We do have others, like Danny Collins, he is in my thoughts. Lee Cattermole, Lorik Cana, Paulo Da Silva are all also in my thoughts.

They all have leadership qualities.

We wanted to bring that, players with steel, and we have.”

If Bruce is unsuccessful in landing his new captain, it is likely to mean Collins continues in a role he feels he has been growing into.

“I would be absolutely delighted to get it on a permanent basis,” he said. “Would I make a good one? I am pretty vocal out on the pitch but it is not just about on the pitch. A lot of it is around the training ground as well. It is up to the gaffer.”

Having been with Sunderland for the last five years, Collins has been through good and bad times. He is, though, convinced a top-half finish is possible this season.

“This is a new chapter in the Sunderland book and there are very positive vibes about the place,” he said.

“Now we just have to go out and prove it.

“Five or six of us sat down the other day with the manager and we spoke about where we want to be at the end of the season. Anything below the top ten will not be a success for this club.

“I know we were 16th last time and that wasn’t good enough, considering the players we brought in. Top ten is definitely within reach.”

If that can be achieved in Bruce’s first season then Collins is confident of being a part of it, despite knowing there are further signings expected.

“It’s the same question every year and it’s getting boring.

With the new defenders coming in, I just see it as a challenge,” he said. “Every year, I keep being written off but I use that as motivation.

“It doesn’t bother me. I have been here six seasons and have missed just seven games in the last three seasons.

“This year, I have played every pre-season game and it would be great to carry on that record.”

■ Tickets go on general sale to Sunderland fans from the Stadium of Light ticket office at 10am on Wednesday, August 19 for their Carling Cup trip to Norwich on August 24. Prices are £16 for adults, £8 for under-21s, £5 for under-16s and £1 for under-12s.