Bramble over his injury woes and ready to go

20 July 2011 08:20
TITUS BRAMBLE is ready to make up for lost time after emerging successfully through the first two weeks of pre-season and thinks Sunderland's new-look squad is equipped for another top ten place.

After missing the final couple of months of last season with a knee injury, the centre-back is set to play his third successive friendly fixture when the Black Cats face Hannover tonight.

Bramble has already figured against York and Arminia Bielefeld and that has helped him to forget the woes he endured towards the end of last season.

At this stage of the summer, I think we all need games, he said. I've been out for quite a while, so it's great to get as much action under my belt as I can. It was fairly rusty getting things started at York last week, but that's only to be expected because of how long I've been out. Thankfully, as a footballer, it doesn't take you long to start finding your feet again.

The injury is in the past now the knee feels great. I don't have any worries on that score, and that's pleasing because at the time it was obviously a fairly serious injury.

The performances will come with games, so it's crucial that I play in as many as I can in pre-season and also that I get as many training sessions as I can under my belt.

I was fit for the start of pre-season and that's important because even if you miss a little bit of it, it can affect you for the rest of the year.

Being out for four-and-a-half months is quite a while, so the only way to get back to fitness and sharpness is through playing games.

Bramble's last appearance was in March and there were real concerns he could even miss the start of the new campaign after he felt soreness around the knee that had previously been operated on.

But the 29-year-old said: I was never worried about recovering from the injury because I spoke to the surgeon straight away and he was happy with the way things had gone.

It was just going to be a case of resting it and that's what I had to do. I was doing my leg weights right through the summer to make sure I was ready to go as soon as we all came back. We're a few weeks into pre-season now and, touch wood, I've had no problems at all.

Since Bramble last appeared in a Sunderland shirt there have been plenty of changes. Jordan Henderson, Bolo Zenden, John Mensah, Nedum Onuoha, Sulley Muntari and Danny Welbeck are among those to have left, while manager Steve Bruce has brought in nine new players.

Bramble, a £1m buy from Wigan 12 months ago, has been impressed. It's been really hectic in terms of the signings, but that's great, he said. We lost a few at the end of last season when all the loan signings went back.

We've had to replace them, and the gaffer has made some great signings to do that. The new lads have looked great in training, and we're all really looking forward to next season now.

It's to see the type of signings who have come into the club this summer, we have some great, experienced Premier League players.

You look at people like Wes Brown and John O'Shea they're Champions League winners.

We're really looking forward to working with them because they have a winning mentality. We were top ten at the end of last season. Now, it's a case of us kicking on and improving on that.

O'Shea will not play any further part in Sunderland's final two friendlies in Germany after being told to return to Wearside for treatment on the knock he picked up against Bielefeld.

There's no point taking risks with him, said Bruce. It would be easier for him to fly home earlier and rest up because he won't face Hannover or Moenchengladbach (Sunday).

O'Shea and Brown moved to Sunderland in a deal that was originally expected to include Darron Gibson.

Gibson looked the most likely of the three to arrive initially, but the Republic of Ireland midfielder is now the one looking for another move.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson said: He was at the point of going to Sunderland and somewhere along the line, I don't know exactly, but I think Sunderland moved the goalposts.

I suppose their job is to try to save money. From what I gather, they made him an offer and then changed it. That annoyed Darron and I think he's quite right. He seems to be in limbo.

Bruce is not concerned. He said: "Sunderland have always had a great relationship with Manchester United, even prior to my arrival here, and long may that continue. I know Sir Alex is away at present and with the time difference etc, I haven't had a chance to catch up with him. But once he's back, I'm sure we'll have a chat and clear things up."

Sunderland defender Matt Kilgallon, meanwhile, is interesting Birmingham City.

* Sunderland have added a further friendly to their schedule. The first team now travel to Kilmarnock on July 27. Kick-off 7.30pm.

Source: Northern_Echo