MARTIN O’Neill has rebuffed Mick McCarthy’s attempts to poach one of his back-up defenders on loan, indicating Titus Bramble has a future at Sunderland.
The new Ipswich boss enquired about Bramble, Louis Laing and Matt Kilgallon last week but O’Neill indicated a willingness to keep them at the Stadium of Light ahead of a busy Christmas period.
That is despite John O’Shea and Carlos Cuellar having been firmly established as his first-choice defensive pairing this season.
McCarthy ended up signing another former Newcastle defender on loan, Bradley Orr from Blackburn – but only after the Black Cats boss had turned down attempts to sign one of his fringe men.
Having allowed David Meyler to go out on loan to get more games, O’Neill is weighing up a number of offers for his squad players, with Connor Wickham believed to be the subject of an enquiry from Championship side Sheffield Wednesday.
The Sunderland boss has always made it clear his needs take precedence over other managers, though, and clearly feels he needs all of his defenders on board ahead of the hectic festive period.
That means Bramble, who is in the final year of his deal at the Stadium of Light, is likely to be afforded opportunities to prove himself worthy of a new contract before the turn of the year.
The former Ipswich man has missed the past few weeks with a “niggly” hip injury but is in the squad for the weekend trip to Fulham and is now looking to make the most of an injury-free run.
He said: “It’s never nice being injured and watching the lads from the sidelines. Now I’m back involved it’s quite pleasing.
“I had a small tear in my hip flexor. It wasn’t anything major, but it was niggly and enough to stop
me playing games which was very frustrating.
“As a player you want a run of games in the team.
“I was in the side and doing all right but then to come out with an injury was not nice.”
The Black Cats head to Craven Cottage on Sunday desperate to end their miserable run of six league games without a win.
Although they are gunning for victory, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet admits anything other than defeat would be a triumph of sorts.
The Belgian international said: t“Anything away from home in the Premier League is an achievement because every side really does try to make the most of their home games.
“An away point is always a good one and we are in the middle of two tough away games, so getting a point here and there is no bad thing.
“Far better a point than nothing.”