Bramble is only doubt for Sunderland

Titus Bramble
Titus Bramble
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TITUS Bramble is Sunderland’s only injury concern ahead of Sunday’s Wear-Tyne derby.

Black Cats boss Martin O’Neill has a relatively clean bill of health ahead of this weekend’s tussle against Newcastle United, with just Bramble and long-term absentee Wes Brown on the treatment table.

James McClean has shaken off the groin strain which ruled him out of featuring for the Republic of Ireland, while all Sunderland’s other internationals returned to training at the Academy of Light yesterday unscathed.

They included Adam Johnson, after the winger was delayed for an extra 24 hours on England duty, and Steven Fletcher, despite reports that he had suffered a knock playing for Scotland.

But ex-Magpies defender Bramble may not feature in the squad to face his former club due to a hip problem which has kept him out of training and will be assessed by Sunderland’s medical team today.

O’Neill told the Echo: “He’s got a problem at the top of his hip. He’s been uncomfortable for a little while now and been unable to train for the last couple of days. We’ll see how he is today.”

Bramble (right) was left out against Manchester City to make way for the fit-again Carlos Cuellar despite the former England U21 international impressing in the previous two games.

O’Neill confirmed it was not an injury problem which saw Bramble confined to the bench at the Etihad.

“It didn’t affect my decision at Manchester City,” added O’Neill. “Titus was available for it. I think he had done very well in the games he played. But I felt that in the game, with the way Manchester City were going to play, the ball wouldn’t be tossed in there.

“It would be more sharp passing around the box and you want Titus at his sharpest against that. But I’ve still been very happy with him.”