Sunderland’s Titus Bramble gamble

Craig Gardner
Craig Gardner
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TITUS Bramble’s chances of a January move will hinge on whether Sunderland are able to boost their back-line during the transfer window.

Weekend reports linked Bramble with a New Year switch to basement boys QPR, with new boss Harry Redknapp understood to be firmly interested in taking the 31-year-old to Loftus Road.

Bramble is thought to have grown disenchanted at a lack of first-team football at the Stadium of Light, with Matt Kilgallon tellingly preferred to the former Newcastle United and Ipswich defender when John O’Shea missed two games with a calf strain.

There are just seven months left on Bramble’s contract at the Stadium of Light and it is almost certain that one of the club’s highest earners will not be offered a new deal to remain on Wearside.

Bramble, an unused substitute in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat by Chelsea, would be free to make a lucrative Bosman move in the summer, but a January switch does appeal to the centre-half.

QPR are desperate for solidity in the centre of defence to bolster their chances of survival.

Despite leading with goals from veteran Ryan Nelsen and former Sunderland striker Djibril Cisse at Wigan on Saturday, they still could not hang on for a first Premier League win of the season.

Sunderland are unlikely to be averse to letting Bramble leave, if they can recoup any sort of transfer fee and free up significant funds on the wage bill.

But boss Martin O’Neill will be wary of leaving his defensive options unnecessarily depleted, with Wes Brown still recovering from an 11-month hiatus through a knee injury.

O’Neill is keen to strengthen his options at centre-half, particularly as Kilgallon’s contract expires at the end of the season too, and he tellingly watched Swedish international Andreas Granqvist in action against England last month.

But he may opt to wait until Bramble and Kilgallon’s contracts expire in the summer, with some midfield muscle a priority for O’Neill in January.

Sunderland were again linked with a move for out-of-favour Spurs centre-half Michael Dawson yesterday, after similar speculation during the summer.

The Black Cats were not interested in making a significant outlay on Dawson in August, although the switch did appeal to the Northallerton-born defender, who would be able to move closer to his family roots.