McCartney had looked good this season, getting forward and getting fantasy points. He was always going to be popular this week as Sunderland host Hull City. Collins would have been the clear pick as he looked comfortable filling in for McCartney for long stretches last season. But now we'll have to wait and see what Bruce has in mind. However, Bardsley is a bit expensive, and Mensah isn't in the system yet. So maybe it's just a stay away.
McCartney damaged the hamstring in training on Friday ahead of Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifier in Poland, and missed that game.
He remains a major doubt for Wednesday's clash with Slovakia, and there are fears on Wearside that a man who has a history of similar problems could be out of action for several weeks.
That would represent a serious blow to Bruce as well as the 28-year-old, who is the club's only recognised senior left-back.
Danny Collins, a centre-half who played much of his football for the Black Cats at left-back, was allowed to join Barclays Premier League rivals Stoke as the transfer window drew to a close last week...
Youngster Michael Liddle is injured as well as inexperienced, and Bruce may have to be creative as he looks for a replacement.