TITUS Bramble is eager to repay Martin O’Neill’s faith with an injury-free run.
Bramble made just eight appearances for Sunderland last season after being beset by fitness and off-the-field problems.
The 31-year-old was facing a court case when O’Neill succeeded Steve Bruce last December, but the centre-half was brought in from the cold to start the manager’s first game in charge against Blackburn Rovers.
But Bramble, whose knee problems from the previous year confined him to the bench for the start of the season, saw his return to the side cut short after suffering an Achilles injury in Boxing Day’s draw with Everton.
It kept Bramble on the sidelines for five months, but O’Neill showed no hesitation in throwing the former Newcastle defender back into the fray for the dramatic final day clash against Manchester United.
With his injury problems now behind him and after being cleared of all criminal charges in May, Bramble is desperate for the new campaign to get underway.
Bramble said: “It was a big confidence boost for me that the manager put me straight into the side when he got here, particularly because of the problems I had at that time.
“When he came in I didn’t know where I would stand, but he brought me into the team for his first game in charge and I was delighted with that.
“But I got injured not long after he was appointed and that was very frustrating.
“It was a tear and tendonitis in the Achilles, a mixture of both, and it took a while to get over.
“It was just a case of having to be patient.
“I eventually came back to play in the final game against Manchester United and at that point I didn’t want the season to end!
“But now we’re back in pre-season training again and I’ve come back raring to go.”