TITUS Bramble today backed Sunderland new boys Stephane Sessegnon and Sulley Muntari to thrive once their match fitness is up to scratch.
Sunderland’s two January signings impressed in their first start together at Stoke City on Saturday despite Steve Bruce’s side sustaining a second successive defeat.
Neither £6million Benin international Sessegnon nor on-loan Inter Milan midfielder Muntari were match-fit when they arrived at the Stadium of Light in the final week of the transfer window.
Sessegnon’s start against Chelsea last week was his first in domestic football since August after a bust-up at former club Paris Saint Germain.
Meanwhile, Muntari had been involved even less at the San Siro after falling out of favour with ex-Inter boss Rafael Benitez.
The 26-year-old, who will represent Ghana against Togo in a friendly in Belgium tonight, had played fewer than seven-and-a-half hours of first-team football all season prior to the weekend.
But stand-in skipper Bramble, pictured right with Muntari, has been impressed by the early signs from the pair and believes there is plenty more still to come.
Bramble told the Echo: “We only saw Stephane in training a couple of days before the Chelsea game and he looked sharp then.
“I think it’s just a case of him getting games now because it was always going to be difficult making his debut against Chelsea.
“He’d not played for a few weeks so it was difficult for him.
“It was quite surprising to see he was playing straightaway against Chelsea after only training a few days with us.
“But he’s showed enough glimpses in the two games to suggest he’s going to be a great signing for us.
“It’s great to see Sulley joining the squad, too.
“They’re both world-class players, so once they bed in to how we play, they’re going to be great signings.”
Black Cats boss Bruce was forced to dismiss suggestions at the weekend that Sunderland’s defeats to Stoke and Chelsea had anything to do with the loss of Darren Bent to Aston Villa.
And central defender Bramble believes, likewise, that Sunderland have moved on from the England striker’s departure.
The Black Cats have scored six times in the three games without Bent.
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They remain firmly in contention for a Europa League spot, despite losing their position in the top six to rejuvenated Liverpool.
“It was disappointing to see Darren go, but that’s football,” said the 29-year-old.
“We’ve got good enough players to keep us moving up the league and pushing for Europe.”