TITUS Bramble smiled when it was pointed out to him that he had managed to get through a pre-season game without conceding a penalty or getting sent off. “Yeah, I’m getting better aren’t I?” the big man beamed.
“I’m hoping to get all the mistakes out of the way before the start of the season!”
By his own acknowledgement, Bramble has not been at his sharpest this summer but he is quick to point out that he has been coming back from long-term injury and feeling more like his normal self with each passing week.
Last night he helped his side to a clean sheet as Sunderland beat Darlington 3-0 and afterwards he reflected: “I enjoyed the game, I’m feeling fitter and sharper all the time but that’s to be expected.
“My match against York at the start of pre-season was my first in four-and-a-half months so you’re bound to be rusty after such a long time out.
“But I’ve been feeling better and better as the days have gone by and I enjoyed the game against Darlington.
“Myself and Michael Turner both got 90 minutes in and that will do us a world of good.
“It hasn’t been the best of pre-seasons for me personally with the penalties and the sending off but I’d like to think I’m getting it out of my system early.
“Pre-season is all about fitness and match sharpness when it comes down to it and I’m happy with how I’m coming along.
“I know I’ll be ready for the start of the season and that’s the important thing. I’m getting to the point now where I’m just raring to go and a lot of boys are the same.”
Bramble turned 30 at the end of last month and the knee injury which robbed him of more than a quarter of a season might be a concern for a player approaching the veteran stage of his career.
But Bramble says he feels in A1 condition after a successful operation and does not see it being an issue in the future.
“It’s just good to be playing injury-free again after the work on the knee,” he told the Echo.
“It was a problem at Christmas and the work done then didn’t really fix it. But the surgery I had second time around has worked perfectly and the great thing is I’m not even thinking about it now going into the game or during the game.
“It’s not a concern. It’s as good as it has been in years.”