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Bramble keen for Sunderland stay
TITUS BRAMBLE believes he can repay Martin O'Neill's faith in him by proving his fitness and earning a new contract at Sunderland.
Bramble has entered the final 12 months of his contract and will become a free agent at the end of next season.
Just last week O'Neill had hinted the 31-year-old could convince his manager that he deserves a new deal provided he can stay injury-free.
Bramble has been told he has a future on Wearside and that his boss thinks he can become a key member of the squad for the longer term - provided he can stay fit.
The centre-back had to battle back from an Achilles problem and much-publicised off-the-field distractions but is keen to make up for his lack of game time last season.
"If I'm playing regularly then I don't see why I can't stay beyond 12 months," said Bramble. "I don't want to go anywhere. I am very happy here. It's just a case of playing and seeing what happens.
"I'm not young any more. It's a case of when you do get to my age that you stay fit and play as many games as you can. You do get little injuries through wear and tear with age. I tore my Achilles against Everton on Boxing Day. It was a frustrating period.
"The manager wants me to stay fit. He likes me as a player and he wants me to just stay fit and help the team."
Bramble has already played a significant part in the first four matches of pre-season and is hoping to figure at Derby County tonight and then at Leicester City on Saturday.
But staying in the team will not be easy. Despite the departure of Michael Turner to Norwich City, O'Neill still has plenty of other options at the heart of the defence.
"That's probably our strongest department with me, Wes Brown, John O'Shea, Carlos Cuellar and Matt Kilgallon all able to play there," said Bramble. "That's one position where we have plenty of cover. We are sad that Turner left but that's football. You just have to work with what you have got.
"My fitness is good so far. I have played all of the games so far this summer. I have played two 90 minutes, an 80 and a 60, so that's very good. I'm just looking forward to the season now and the start at Arsenal on August 18."