TITUS Bramble will make his Sunderland comeback in tonight’s reserve team derby – a week after his suspension was lifted by the club.
The defender (pictured) has not featured for the Black Cats since Sunderland’s 2-1 defeat at Norwich City in September after he was arrested less than 48 hours later following a night on the town.
He was subsequently fined heavily by Sunderland and suspended for six weeks – the maximum allowed under UK employment law – for bringing the club into disrepute by going nightclubbing just hours before he was due for training.
Bramble still faces a Crown Court trial over two charges of sexual assault and one of urinating against a police station wall – matters that the 30-year-old denies.
But the former Newcastle man has resumed training for the past week at the Academy of Light and will line up alongside Matt Kilgallon in central defence for the second string’s clash with the Magpies at the Stadium of Light tonight (kick-off 7pm).
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce told the Echo: “Big Titus will play against Newcastle tonight, as will Matt Kilgallon, who has been training well recently.
“Titus is back and I can’t be judge and jury. We’ve done what we can and took a stance on it.
“He’s been fined heavily for bringing the club into disrepute and it’s now up to the courts as to what they do.
“He’s been out for five to six weeks and now he’s got to build up his fitness again.”
Bramble’s outing for the reserves will not necessarily signal any involvement in the first team’s Premier League clash with Fulham on Saturday.
The ex-England U21 defender is short of fitness after being forced to train on his own during his suspension.
And it remains to be seen whether Bruce will select Bramble after the manager was furious at one of his most experienced players hitting the town the day after Sunderland’s worst performance of the season at Carrow Road.
The return to fitness of John O’Shea means Sunderland are well-off when it comes to defensive cover too, with Michael Turner and Wes Brown forming an effective partnership at the heart of the back four during Bramble’s absence.
Bramble and Kilgallon will be by far the most senior Sunderland players on show tonight against an equally youthful Newcastle side, with both squads depleted by their international absentees.
Admission is £3 (adults) and £1 (concessions) in the West Stand, with free entry for season ticket holders. Newcastle supporters will be housed in the South Stand.