TITUS BRAMBLE faces at least another month on the sidelines as Sunderland attempt to bring a conclusion to the defender’s injury woes.
Bramble has been sidelined with an Achilles/calf problem since Boxing Day after being handed a fresh opportunity by Black Cats boss Martin O’Neill.
The 30-year-old had been due to return to the fold last month, only to suffer a relapse in training.
Bramble has now been fitted with a protective boot, which he will wear for the next three weeks in a bid to hasten his recovery.
But like fellow injured central defender Wes Brown, Bramble is unlikely to feature before the end of March, although the deadline day acquisition of Sotirios Kyrgiakos and the return to fitness of Matt Kilgallon ensures Sunderland have at least got cover at the heart of the back four.
O’Neill said: “Titus has got a boot on and he’s going to be immobile now for a few weeks.
“He’ll be in it for the next three weeks which is a setback.”
Bramble’s time at the Stadium of Light has been continually hampered by injuries, the former Ipswich man making just seven appearances this season, albeit he was suspended by the club for six weeks in the autumn.
After injuring his knee in November, 2010, Bramble suffered a relapse in March last year and spent the summer trying to work his way back to fitness.
But the former England U21 man looked rusty during pre-season and was forced to wait until September for his opportunity in the starting XI after Anton Ferdinand’s departure to QPR.
Bramble had looked sharp after O’Neill adopted a clean slate with the defender and installed him in the side, only for his comeback to last just three-and-a-half games.