Bramble is injury doubt to face old club Newcastle

FITNESS BATTLE ... Phil Bardsley and Titus Bramble.

FITNESS BATTLE ... Phil Bardsley and Titus Bramble.

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TITUS Bramble is Sunderland’s only injury concern ahead of Sunday’s Wear-Tyne derby.

Black Cats boss Martin O’Neill has a relatively clean bill of health ahead of this weekend’s tussle against Newcastle United, with just Bramble and long-term absentee Wes Brown on the treatment table.

James McClean has shaken off a groin strain which ruled him out of Republic of Ireland’s games, while all Sunderland’s other internationals returned to training at the Academy of Light yesterday unscathed.

But ex-Magpies defender Bramble may not feature in the squad to face his former club due to a hip problem which has kept him out of training and will be assessed by Sunderland’s medical team today.

O’Neill told the Gazette: “He’s got a problem at the top of his hip.

“He’s been uncomfortable for a little while now and been unable to train for the last couple of days.

“We’ll see how he is today.”

Former Newcastle defender Bramble was left out against Manchester City to make way for the fit-again Carlos Cuellar, despite impressing in the previous two games, but O’Neill confirmed his relegation to the bench wasn’t down to an injury.

“It didn’t affect my decision at Manchester City,” added O’Neill.

“Titus was available for it. I think he had done very well in the games he played.

“But I felt that in the game, with the way Manchester City were going to play, the ball wouldn’t be tossed in there.

“It would be more sharp passing around the box and you want Titus at his sharpest against that.

“But I’ve still been very happy with him.”