Friends reunited for new boy Titus
Sunderland new boy and former Newcastle star Titus Bramble will be surrounded by familiar faces as he prepares to return to the North-East. The 28-year-old yesterday signed a three-year deal after Wigan accepted the Black Cats' offer of around £1million for his services. Bramble is no stranger to the region, having spent five years on Tyneside with the Magpies, and he will feel equally at home in the dressing room. He worked under manager Steve Bruce and his assistant, Eric Black, at Wigan, where he also played with midfielder Lee Cattermole, and he was followed through the ranks at first club Ipswich by £10million marksman Darren Bent. Bramble, who joined his team-mates at their pre-season training camp in Portugal earlier this week as the details of his move were thrashed out, said: "I know the manager, all his backroom staff, I know Catts, I know Benty, so it will be easy to settle in. "Any time you join a new club, it's exciting, so I just want to get back on the training pitch and play with my new team." While there will be plenty of support behind the scenes at the Stadium of Light, Bramble may have to persuade some of the club's supporters he has what it takes to be the rock at the heart of their defence. For many of them, he was a figure of fun during his error-prone days at St James' Park and despite his form at Wigan, where he rebuilt his reputation in fine style under Bruce, those memories remain. However, while he did have his bad days in a Newcastle shirt, he also had plenty of good ones with both Sir Bobby Robson, the man who signed him for £5million during the summer of 2002, and his successor Graeme Souness repeatedly voicing the opinion that Bramble had all the attributes to become a top central defender. It is easy to forget too that his CV includes extensive experience in Europe, where he played for Newcastle teams in Champions League victories over Juventus, Dynamo Kiev and Bayer Leverkusen and a creditable away draw at Inter Milan, and also in a UEFA Cup semi-final. A return to continental action is high on the player's agenda, and he is confident that is not beyond Sunderland as they prepare for the new Barclays Premier League campaign with a top-10 finish the minimum requirement. Asked about his ambitions for the season, Bramble told SAFC TV: "To become a regular, and for the team it's to improve on last season. "The signings he [Bruce] is going to make and the players we have here, we are definitely good enough to qualify for Europe. "It's a great stadium and we have got some very passionate fans - it's better to be playing with them rather than against them."
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