SUNDERLAND’S summer clear-out is underway after Titus Bramble indicated he is leaving the Stadium of Light at the end of his contract.
Bramble’s three-year deal on Wearside is due to expire next month, with Sunderland making no attempt to extend the stay of one of the club’s top earners.
The 31-year-old, restricted to 42 Premier League starts at Sunderland due to a series of knee problems, has not even figured on the bench since Paolo Di Canio took charge of the Black Cats.
And amid interest from America’s MLS, as the Echo revealed earlier this week, Bramble yesterday publicly confirmed on Twitter that his time at Sunderland is over.
“I’ve had a great three years and would like to thank every #SAFC fan for the support they have shown,” he said.
“The NE (North-East) is a special place to play and will always be close to my heart. I wish the club and my team-mates all the best for the future.”
Bramble, signed by Steve Bruce in a £1million move from Wigan Athletic, is not the only out-of-contract centre-half to be leaving Sunderland.
Matt Kilgallon will join the former Newcastle United defender in parting ties with the Black Cats, with that decision taken well before he was pictured in a casino last week alongside team-mate Phil Bardsley.
Several Championship clubs are keeping tabs on Kilgallon, although his former club Leeds United are not thought to be among them, despite manager Brian McDermott’s predecessor Neil Warnock tracking the 29-year-old.
The departure of Bramble and Kilgallon represent the first departures from the Stadium of Light, with loanees Kader Mangane and Danny Rose also returning to their parent clubs, albeit Sunderland are hopeful of signing the latter permanently.
Bardsley is also expected to be offloaded after earning Di Canio’s ire by being pictured covered in £50 notes in a casino to celebrate Sunderland’s top flight survival.
The departure of those five defenders will leave Sunderland with just two first-team players at the back, John O’Shea and Carlos Cuellar, albeit long-term injury victim Wes Brown remains on the club’s books.
Di Canio will put together a new-look back four for next season, with Maritimo’s centre-half Valentin Roberge set to arrive on a Bosman deal.
Lazio central defender Modibo Diakite is also on the radar, while Sunderland face what promises to be a drawn out chase to agree a fee with Spurs for Rose.