Steve Bruce is to include Titus Bramble in his first team at the weekend despite the Sunderland defender being bailed by police investigating an allegation of rape.
The 29-year-old was arrested on Wednesday in connection with an incident at a hotel in Newcastle but the club's chairman, Niall Quinn, has insisted that Bramble, a summer signing from Wigan Athletic, is innocent and the manager Bruce has added his support.
Bramble missed Tuesday night's 2-1 Carling Cup defeat by West Ham United with a slight knock, but trained yesterday morning after being questioned by police and is in line to start tomorrow's Premier League match with Liverpool at Anfield.
"He wants to play," Bruce said yesterday. "He wanted to be in this morning and he wants to go and put the record straight. He wishes he could, but legally we can't. But we want the case resolved and I just want to reiterate what Niall said, that we are all behind him, we are all 100 per cent convinced that he has got nothing to do with this allegation and we will get on with it and hope the conclusion comes quickly. He wants to just go and play and forget about it. It's unfortunate, what has happened, but he plays, it's as simple as that."
While Sunderland are confident that Bramble has committed no criminal offence, his presence in Newcastle on Tuesday night was a breach of club rules and he could yet find himself in hot water with the club. "All I will say is the disappointment I have is that he shouldn't be out on a Tuesday night in a nightclub, and he knows that," Bruce said, "but that's his only offence.
"The rest of it, we hope that the matter – and I speak for everybody now – can just be dealt with as quickly as possible and will sort itself out quickly, because it needs to."
Bruce could have done without having one of his players caught up in a police investigation during a week in which the optimism garnered from a deserved 1-1 draw against Arsenal was dented by the club's weak cup exit three days later.
The trip to Anfield will hand them a chance to respond, and they will at least be strengthened by the return of their captain Lee Cattermole from a two-match suspension imposed for his second red card in just four games of the new season.
However, after thinking long and hard about the 22-year-old's disciplinary problems, Bruce has decided not to remove the captaincy from him.
"I made a decision at the start of the season – and a conscious one – that he is the captain, and I am going to stand by him. He is still my captain," Bruce added.Reuse content