TITUS BRAMBLE is relieved Sunderland have Lee Cattermole back in their midst – even though the midfielder’s return has cost him the captain’s armband.
Bramble has led the Black Cats out since the turn of the year after skipper Cattermole was confined to the treatment table with a back problem.
But Bramble immediately passed on the armband to former Wigan team-mate Cattermole when the 23-year-old made his return from injury in the early stages of Sunday’s defeat to Liverpool.
Centre-half Bramble has enjoyed stepping into his pal’s shoes, but realises the benefits of having the ex-Middlesbrough player’s tigerish presence back in the middle of the park.
Bramble told the Echo: “It’s good to have Catts back – he’s a great player who does so much for the side.
“He got some game time against Liverpool which was one big positive to come out of the match.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of being captain – it’s been fantastic.
“I was captain before at Wigan, but it’s been a great honour to captain this great club.”
While Cattermole made a successful return to the first-team picture, Sunderland suffered a fresh batch of injuries with Phil Bardsley (knee), Anton Ferdinand (ankle), Sulley Muntari (calf) and Kieran Richardson (hamstring) all picking up knocks.
The only comfort is that Sunderland have a fortnight between games with the Black Cats heading to Champions League-chasing Manchester City on Sunday week.
“We got Catts and (Danny) Welbeck back but then picked up another couple of injuries,” said Bramble.
“It’s just got to that stage of the season where people are picking up knocks.
“I don’t think Bardo’s was too bad, to be fair – he’s had a problem for a while.
“It was either him coming off or Welbeck and Welbeck was tired after coming back into the side.
“Hopefully they can all be back for Manchester City.”
Bramble admits he would rather not face such a lengthy wait before Sunderland’s next game after the Black Cats suffered a fifth loss in six matches.
But the 29-year-old is adamant that confidence has not been fatally affected by Sunderland’s six-game winless run despite Steve Bruce’s men now in jeopardy of losing their top-half spot.
Bramble added: “After getting beaten, we wanted a game to come as quickly as possible. But it’s a two-week break which is a bit frustrating.
“We’ll have to work hard in training to get ready for Man City.
“I don’t think confidence has been affected. Other than the Everton game, we’ve played well.
“We know what Man City are all about. They’ve got fantastic players.
“You’re in football to play against the best players in the world and Man City have got a lot of them.”