TITUS Bramble today backed Asamoah Gyan to fill the void left by the shock departure of Darren Bent.
Record signing Gyan is Sunderland’s sole available striker for Saturday’s trip to Blackpool after Bent’s £24million move to Aston Villa this week.
With Danny Welbeck and Fraizer Campbell on the treatment table for at least another month and boss Steve Bruce yet to bring in a replacement for Bent, the onus is on seven-goal Gyan to keep Sunderland’s top six challenge on course.
But Bramble is confident the Ghanaian World Cup star can handle the pressure after grabbing the dramatic stoppage time leveller to earn Sunderland a point against Newcastle last weekend.
“It’s disappointing to lose Darren, but that’s football,” said centre-half Bramble.
“We’re sixth in the table, things are going well and we don’t intend to let anything knock us out of our stride. It’s a big loss but we’ve got other people in the squad who can score goals.
“Asa is a world class player who has played and scored goals at the highest level. I’m sure he will be able to deal with the extra responsibility.
“We spent a lot of money on him in the summer. I had seen him play in the World Cup, but I didn’t really know what to expect when he arrived.
“Since he has come here though he has been like a breath of fresh air. He’s always got a smile on his face, he is a great guy to have around the training ground and he scores goals on a Saturday.
“And he’s going to score a lot more goals as time goes on and he adapts to the Premier League.”
The 29-year-old added: “I’m sure the manager and the directors are working hard behind the scenes to bring in some top class players. Fingers crossed we get someone in sooner rather than later.
“But we hope to have Fraizer Campbell and Danny Welbeck back in five or six weeks and they will be like new signings for us.”
Sunderland need someone to share the goalscoring burden against the Premier League new boys after spurning 32 chances against the Tangerines in December’s reverse fixture.
Bramble doesn’t expect a repeat scenario despite bracing himself for a tough test against the impressive outfit Ian Holloway has put together at Bloomfield Road.
The central defender said: “It was a freak game last month. We had about 30-something chances but didn’t score - I don’t think that will ever happen again. This time I’d be happy with only two chances and two goals!
“Blackpool have been fantastic though. They play with no fear. At the start of the season, everyone expected them to get relegated so they could just go out and enjoy themselves. They’ve done that and got a lot of very good results – they’ve turned over a lot of teams.”
Bramble is confident Sunderland can bounce back from two dire displays too after again freezing in the derby last weekend and getting knocked out of the FA Cup eight days earlier.
“We’ve had other setbacks and come back strongly,” he said. “Over Christmas we lost back-to-back games against Man U and Blackpool but came back to win our next two against Blackburn and Villa.
“We’ve got enough character in the squad to bounce back from the cup defeat and the performance on Sunday.”