Titus Bramble: Competition for places is great for Sunderland

Former Wigan defender believes that the nine additions made to the squad this season will benefit the team and he cannot wait for the season opener against Liverpool

Titus Bramble believes he and his Sunderland team-mates are slowly gelling ahead of the new season and will be better off after a host of new players joined the squad.

Steve Bruce has brought in nine players, including Manchester United defenders Wes Brown and John O'Shea, this summer as the Black Cats look to improve on their 10th-place finish last season.

The former Newcastle defender believes the extra competition in the squad will only be good for the team and will bring out the best in the players.

After an injury lay-off ruined the last few months of Bramble’s campaign, he is looking forward to getting back into action on August 13 against Liverpool at Anfield.

He told the club’s website: "Things went well overall tonight and I've got another 90 minutes under my belt, which is the main thing.

"It was a good team performance and I think you can see that the players are getting a good understanding now.

"I came close to getting myself that elusive goal too but I'm saving myself for the start of the season - it'll come along soon, I'm sure!

"We've got a fantastic squad here now. The gaffer's brought in nine players so there's some real competition.

"But competition is great for the club.

"Players find pre-season always drags on but it's just over a week to Liverpool now and we are sharp and fit.

"There's a great atmosphere amongst the squad - we're pretty close to where we want to be now."

New boy Craig Gardner echoed the thoughts of his team-mate as he will fight it out with fellow new signings David Vaughan and Seb Larsson for a place in the Sunderland midfield.

"There's massive competition here now. Everyone wants to push on," he said.

"Everyone wants to play; no-one wants to be left on the bench - especially me.

"It's a big season for everyone.”

The former Birmingham man scored his first goal for the club in a pre-season game against Darlington on Wednesday and believes he is slowly getting into gear ahead of the Premier League campaign.

"It was nice to get the first full 90 minutes in and I felt good in the game," the midfielder said.

"Getting on the scoresheet was a bonus.

"It's a different style of play to Birmingham but I feel like I'm finding my feet now.

"I don't think I've had the best of pre-seasons so far but I was better last night."