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Bramble a different player says Bruce
Published : 14 Sep 2010 09:02:00
STEVE BRUCE feels that Titus Bramble could prove to be one of the bargain buys of the season if he continues in the manner he has started his new life at Sunderland. Bramble is five matches in to his career on Wearside and has impressed fans with his performances, which have not gone unnoticed by his manager. But some Sunderland fans are reserving judgement, recalling the occasions when the centre-back would make a gaffe during his time at Newcastle United. But Bruce, who took the player from St James' Park to Wigan for £5m three years ago, feels he is a much more composed player to that which went from outstanding one week to poor the next during his five years on Tyneside. The Sunderland boss knows Bramble is still capable of a lapse in concentration, but he is satisfied his summer buy from Wigan is at a stage in his career when he is ready to find a high level of consistency. You can now see a different player who has matured, said Bruce. You can see that in his performances so far. But the thing is with Titus you cannot keep telling him how well he has done. You just have to keep hitting him with a big stick, get after him to concentrate. That's how you keep the getting the best out of him. Eyebrows were raised among the Sunderland supporters when Bruce opted to persuade Wigan to cash in on the former Ipswich Town defender during the close-season. However, after witnessing the positive start he has made at the Stadium of Light, it is difficult to argue against the decision to strengthen the defence with his services particularly for as little as £1m. Wigan manager Roberto Martinez was quick to make up his mind about letting Bramble go, with just a year remaining on the 29-year-old's contract. Now, though, Bruce thinks Bramble's performances are proving which manager made the right choice. Titus has done terrifically well for me, said Bruce. For the money, at £1m, or whatever it was, it was a terrific piece of business. Where else do you get someone who has ten years in Premier League experience for that much Sometimes you can move too soon, especially as a centre- half but most centrehalves get better with games, unfortunately you can't run anymore but experience and know-how helps. Bramble has looked solid alongside John Mensah, Michael Turner and, at Wigan on Saturday, Anton Ferdinand at the heart of the defence since his move, which has made him a first choice at this stage. And while he might be forced to tinker with his team for this Saturday's visit of Arsenal to the Stadium of Light, Bramble is certain of his place. Kieran Richardson, who has looked impressive at leftback, is a doubt for the weekend. He suffered a groin problem at Wigan and will be assessed again this morning by the club's medical staff. Sunderland, meanwhile, are hoping to hear from Doncaster Rovers in the next few days. Rovers have expressed an interest in taking David Healy on loan, but his reputed £20,000-a-week wages are proving a stumbling block.