WES BROWN believes his central defensive partnership with Michael Turner is beginning to flourish.
Ever-present Brown has lined up alongside three different sidekicks in 11 Premier League outings for Sunderland since his summer move from Manchester United.
But the 32-year-old has swiftly formed an effective understanding in five games with Turner – all the more impressive given the latter spent almost a year on the sidelines with knee injury troubles.
With John O’Shea back to full fitness and Titus Bramble returning to training after a six-week club suspension, Sunderland have some competition in their defensive ranks.
But Brown insists Turner is getting better by the week, with the duo set to continue their double-act against Fulham on Saturday.
Brown told the Echo: “He’s done brilliant and every game he’s got even better. The last game at Old Trafford he was superb.
“He’s had another 10 days of training and he’ll be flying again.
“‘Tina’ is good in the air, good on the ball and we understand where each other are going and where to hold the line.
“There’s little things where we’ve got an understanding and when we do have a problem, we come to an agreement.
“It is nice to keep the same partner and back four in general.
“When I was at United, it chopped and changed quite a lot, so I’m used to it.
“But, at the same time, playing with the same person week in, week out does help.
“You start to understand each other and you get that good feeling about the whole back four in general.
“It’s always the best way when you’ve got some competition though. John’s fit again and Titus is back in training.”
Sunderland’s squad gathered in its entirety at the Academy of Light this morning, as players returned from international duty.
Former England defender Brown is glad the stop-start international disruptions have reached a standstill until February.
Sunderland have lost both outings following the previous international breaks this season and Brown hopes some continuity will boost the Wearsiders’ modest points tally.
“The internationals stop now for the next few months and we can get into the swing of things,” said Brown.
“Don’t get me wrong, most Premiership teams have to deal with internationals being away, but it doesn’t help.
“As a team, we haven’t been able to train together until today.
“Hopefully we can start picking up some points by being with each other week in and week out.
“It does take time to gel and it would have been perfect to have a flying start, but it’s not happened.
“We’ve got to deal with it, man up and get on with it and it starts on Saturday.
“If people are looking a bit worried on the pitch at times, the more experienced ones of us have to calm them down, but we’ve got a good bunch of lads here who can help the younger and quieter lads.”