Bramble backing from Bruce
Steve Bruce is convinced that Titus Bramble still has the ability to become a top defender.
By Chris Burton
Last Updated: 28/02/08 5:32pm
Steve Bruce is convinced that Titus Bramble still has the ability to become one of England's top defenders.
The centre-back has been forced to watch the Latics' last three games from the sidelines after Bruce decided he 'needed a breather' following a number of high-profile errors.
Catastrophic blunders against Everton and Manchester City have cost Wigan points in their battle against the drop, and as a result Emmerson Boyce has been promoted to the starting line-up in recent weeks.
Bruce, himself a solid centre-half in his playing days, feels that Bramble has the potential to be a key player for the Latics one day, but for now he must learn to increase his powers of concentration on the field.
"That's what sorts out the top players from the not-so-great players," said Bruce.
"The top players don't make many mistakes, and even if they do make one in a season then that's too many for them.
"You look at players like Rio Ferdinand, John Terry and Nemanja Vidic. They are at the top of their tree, and when do you see them make a glaring mistake?
"Of course, everybody makes a mistake, but the top players pride themselves on not doing so.
"But Titus still has it within himself to be a top player, he's only young.
"He just has to learn, and he will, and he will improve. That's why I am here to try to help him if I can."
Bramble saw his time at previous club Newcastle blighted with costly mistakes, and having now seemingly slipped back into his old ways after a promising start at the JJB he is going to have to show a great deal of character to force his way back into the side.
"Although he has trained particularly well, I have to say Emmerson Boyce has come in and done a fantastic job. He has been rock-solid and reliable," Bruce said.
"Titus is obviously disappointed, like most players are when they are not in the team, but he has to show the same attitude he has over the past couple of weeks and force his way back again.
"He has to show strength of character, which he has done all his career, because he has been on the receiving end of some stick on occasions.
"Make no mistake, he is a good player, but he has a slight problem with his concentration which has cost us dearly.
"That is when I made the decision to pull him out of the firing line, and that is what I get paid for.
"When you have a squad of 22 or 23 players there are always going to be 11 or so who don't like you or are upset with you.
"But they will play their part, and I'm sure Titus will play his over the next few weeks."