TITUS Bramble’s woes deepened yesterday afternoon when Sunderland suspended him not only from games but also from the training ground as investigations continued into allegations of sexual assault and possession of a Class A drug.
The 30-year-old was released on police bail on Wednesday evening after questioning following his arrest in the early hours of the morning after leaving a Cleveland nightclub.
He is also now the subject of a club inquiry into the matter with a statement from the club yesterday saying: “Sunderland AFC has confirmed that Titus Bramble has been suspended from duties pending the outcome of a club investigation.
“The player will not attend team training or be available for selection for matches during this period.
“The club is unable to make any further comment on the matter at present.”
The announcement leaves Bramble effectively in limbo as the situation is investigated further.
It would have been incredibly challenging for the player to have been involved in this Saturday’s game against West Bromwich Albion given the events of the week.
Whatever the longer-term implications of the ongoing investigations for both the player and the club, Bramble’s suspension means manager Steve Bruce will be without one of his more dependable performers for the Barclays Premier League clash with West Brom at the very least.
And the Sunderland boss will have a job on his hands as he looks to improve a stuttering start to the club’s campaign so far without the services of one of his most effective players.
The former Ipswich, Newcastle and Wigan defender has only returned to first-team action in the last few weeks after a lengthy recovery from a knee injury.
He has started the last three games following Anton Ferdinand’s deadline-day switch to QPR and partnered Wes Brown at the heart of the Black Cats’ rearguard in Monday night’s 2-1 defeat at Norwich.
His absence will leave a significant gap.
Michael Turner is now also available again after long-term injury but remains short of match fitness and if he is drafted in will have his hands full against Albion’s pacey, mobile frontmen Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie.
Sunderland head into the home fixture against the Baggies having undone much of their good work in the 4-0 victory over Stoke at the Stadium of Light on September 18 with a sub-standard display at Carrow Road.
The win over Tony Pulis’ men is their only one to date in seven games in all competitions this season, a return which has left them in 14th place in the league table with just five points from a possible 18.
They head into the latest round of fixtures just a single point clear of the relegation zone, a far cry from expectations after Bruce carried out a substantial recruitment drive during the summer.
That has heaped the pressure back on a manager who knows the chorus of disapproval will only increase in volume if Sunderland do not do well tomorrow.
But after a difficult week for everyone at the club, tomorrow’s game could come as a welcome relief from the unneeded off-field pressures.