TITUS Bramble reckons close friend Charles N’Zogbia is keen on a Sunderland switch.
Having spent the last year talking up the Black Cats to his former team-mate, the Sunderland defender would naturally be delighted if the club can snatch the “fantastic” France international from under the noses of fellow suitors Aston Villa.
That still appears a long shot, he concedes, but with N’Zogbia seemingly sold on a move to the Midlands – and Wigan turning down an initial bid from the Villans – there is still a chance that he could be pulling on a red and white shirt at some point.
“I have spoken to Charles a few times this summer,” Bramble told The Journal at Sunderland’s German training base.
“When I spoke to him last year he said it’d be a fantastic move for him. Whether it materialises for him or not I don’t know – but you never know in football. I think the players would love him here, the fans would love him to be here – but it’s out of our hands.
“We want as many fantastic players as we can here, he’s a fantastic player and he’d be great for this club.”
Despite Steve Bruce writing off the move over the weekend, N’Zogbia remains on the Sunderland manager’s wishlist.
The Black Cats boss is being kept abreast of developments out in Germany
and while the £10million price tag has made him “too rich” for Bruce to move swiftly, the stalling of his move to Villa Park is a positive development.
He would need to shift players off the wage bill and probably raise funds to make it happen – but Bramble believes it would be the right move for his friend.
“There’s nothing much I can do, but I’d like him here. I’ve told him how great Sunderland are – he knows how good a club it is.
“Every time we speak, we speak about football and he knows how highly I think about the club. He knows everything about it.”
Landing N’Zogbia would give Bruce the final piece of his jigsaw but even if nothing happens, an air of positivity emanates from the Black Cats’ German training base in the Hannover hills.
Hamstring victim John O’Shea (pictured below) was sent home yesterday, partly so that he could be with his young family, and partly to find a property in the North East following his move.
Although not available for the next two games, the former Manchester United man is unlikely to be out for long.
The team are being worked hard and several players rested so far are edging closer to returns.
Asamoah Gyan has done double shifts to restore his sharpness and the striker is nearly ready to rejoin his team-mates in full training. While Wes Brown – although out of the Hannover 96 game tonight – could make his bow within the next seven days.
A friendly has been penciled in against Kilmarnock on July 27 which will give Keiren Westwood and Gyan an opportunity to play.
Bruce is braced for a tough test against Europa League qualifiers Hannover, who finished fourth in the ultra-competitive Bundesliga.
“They’re about two weeks in front of us in terms of preparation so it will be tough,” he said. ”But that’s what we’re here for - to test ourselves and build our fitness.
“If you finish fourth in the Bundesliga you’re a good team, so we know what to expect. We’re going to come up against a very, very good team.
“We’re looking forward to it. We’ll blood people who haven’t had much football yet, because I want everyone to have plenty of football in them.”