TITUS BRAMBLE is practising caution on the training field to ensure his first-team run is not ended by injury.
The Sunderland centre-half is currently enjoying his longest stint in the starting XI since February 2011, after featuring in each of the Black Cats’ last six games.
Persistent knee problems limited Bramble to just eight first-team appearances last season after undergoing an operation towards the end of his maiden campaign on Wearside in 2011.
The capture of Carlos Cuellar – rather than injuries – have been the predominant factor in limiting Bramble to a fringe role this season.
But the 31-year-old, who is out of contract in the summer, is determined to make the most of his opportunity and is curtailing his training regime to avoid aggravating his knee.
Bramble told the Echo: “It’s just a case of managing it, really.
“Some days I have to pull out of training because I can’t give 100 per cent every day and expect to play games.
“But the physios and manager are great with it.
“On days you’re not training, you’re in the gym doing bike work, but it’s boring.
“I’d train every day if I could, but that’s just not sensible.
“I just get pain in the joints, really, if I do too much.
“But it’s nothing serious, I’m not overly concerned by it. It’s just wear and tear and age.”
Bramble is not the first prominent Premier League defender to curb their training to ensure he is fully fit for the weekend.
The likes of Paul McGrath, Martin Laursen and most recently Ledley King, have all done minimal pre-match work, yet been able to feature for their clubs on a Saturday.
Although Bramble is still managing to complete three training sessions per week, he believes that might reduce as he gets closer to the end of his career.
“I’m over 30 now, so maybe, when I am mid-30s, I might have to just train once a week,” added the former Newcastle United man.
“Now I’ll train three times a week comfortably so I’m only missing a day or so.
“I don’t think I’m fit enough just to train on a Friday and then play on Saturday.
“At the moment, I need to train to keep my fitness and sharpness up.
“In this day and age, someone like Ledley King is an exception – that’s unbelievable talent to be able to not train and then play on a Saturday.”