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Last Updated: Monday, 16 May, 2005, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Free transfer for striker Bridges
Sunderland striker Michael Bridges
Striker Bridges is a big fans' favourite on Wearside
Sunderland have given popular striker Michael Bridges a free transfer.

The 26-year-old only signed a permanent deal in February following a three-month loan deal from Bolton.

Bridges made only five league starts this season in his second spell with the club, who are preparing their squad for next season's Premiership return.

He joins Sean Thornton and Mark Lynch on the transfer list, while Marcus Stewart, Jeff Whitley and Michael Ingham have already been released.

Bridges began his career in Wearside, scoring 21 goals in 92 appearances as a back-up to Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, before making a 5m move to Leeds in July 1999.

The North Shields-born player enjoyed a hugely-successful first season at Elland Road, scoring 21 goals, but endured a terrible run of injuries.

After a brief loan spell at Newcastle he joined Bolton on a free transfer.

He returned to the Stadium of Light in September 2004 and ended a four-and-a-half-year spell without a goal by scoring the winner against Stoke in November.

He signed a deal until the end of the season and, after proving his fitness, he was offered a contract for the 2005-06 season but has struggled for first-team opportunities since then.


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