Titus can't wait for Portman Road return

TITUS Bramble makes his first competitive return to Portman Road since leaving five years ago and says he can't wait.

Derek Davis

TITUS Bramble makes his first competitive return to Portman Road since leaving five years ago and says he can't wait.

Bramble's only other appearance at Portman Road since his £5m switch to St James' Park came when he played for Newcastle United in Dale Roberts' testimonial

It has meant a high demand in complimentary tickets from friends and family and Bramble has had to scrounge quite a few off his team-mates to keep everyone happy.

Bramble said: “I was happy when they made the draw, it was done when we were in the hotel before the Hull game last month.

“There were a few groans from the other lads, but I was made up.

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“This will be the first time I've played against Ipswich in a competitive game since I left to go to Newcastle.

“So it will be special to go back, I joined them when I was eight-years-old and went through their centre of excellence.

“Ipswich had some excellent facilities and made a real effort to bring young players through rather than pay millions of pounds for players.

“Richard Wright and Kieron Dyer were there a couple of years ahead of me, Wright signed for them again in the summer so hopefully I'll see him tonight.

“They were happy times at Ipswich, it's nice for any kid to play for his home town team.

“I played for them in the Premier League, but when Newcastle came in for me, it was difficult to say 'no' to them.

“Even though it's more than six years since I left, I still know quite a few of the people there, and whenever I'm back in Ipswich, I always pop in to say hello.

“A lot of my family and friends will be in the crowd, my folks live in Ipswich, and I've been trying to get my hands on as many tickets as possible.”

Bramble thinks a decent run in the Carling Cup is a realistic prospect for Latics, although Ipswich will be tough opponents on their home patch and victory at Portman Road would set them up nicely for Sunday's home clash with cash-rich Manchester City.

Bramble said: “Win four or five more games and you can find yourself in the final, especially if the draw is kind to you,” said 27-year-old Bramble.

“I suppose you could argue that it would have been better getting Ipswich at home and Notts County (Latics' second round opponents) away rather than the other way round.

“But this competition gives you a chance of winning something, most clubs in the Premier League know they can't win the title.”

After his own goal against Sunderland 11 days ago, Bramble was back in good form as Latics earned a 1-1 draw at Tottenham on Sunday.

Bramble and Emmerson Boyce earned the plaudits for a rock solid display which snuffed out the threat of Spurs strikers Roman Pavlyuchencko and Darren Bent, and later Fraizer Campbell.

Bramble said: “I've always been of the view that when you get the chance to strike up a regular partnership, you put in better performances.

“Myself and Boycey have built up a good understanding in the last few weeks, as we did when we played alongside each other at times last season.

“The team is playing well at the moment, we can take a lot of positives out of the Spurs game - they've spent a lot of money yet we could quite easily have beaten them.

“I think we've played well all season, we were unlucky in the first two games against West Ham and Chelsea, and since then we've strung a few results together.

“Hopefully we'll be five games unbeaten after tonight.”

Blues boss Jim Magilton is convinced the 27-year-old still has a lot more to come.

Magilton said: “Titus is lightening quick, two-footed and has all the physical attributes of a beast.

“He is an outstanding footballer that has not fulfilled his massive potential. He has had some unfair criticism at times but has not really leant from the mistakes that have plagued his career.

“The wonderful thing about Titus is he is still relatively young and, as Steve Bruce once told me, at centre-half you get better with age. He still has time on his side and he already seems to have been around a long time.

“He is someone I wouldn't mind having in my team.

“He does have a problem with concentration but I have massive time and respect for him.

“He has come through a lot and handled it all. It is not easy playing in front of Newcastle fans when they are screaming and hollering for your blood but he has shown tremendous character to deal with that.

“He has also shown that at Wigan when he was outstanding for a while but then had a spell when he had concentration lapses and that forced Steve Bruce's hand a little. But he came through that again and has been playing very, very well.”

Bramble has agreed to sponsor an Ipswich academy showcase game at Portman Road against Manchester United's academy side in April. Keiron Dyer sponsored a similar game against Arsenal academy last year.

“Although we've moved on we've never forgotten our roots,” said Bramble. “We know what Ipswich have done for our careers and that's why I've agreed to get involved with sponsorship at the Academy.

“It gives me the opportunity to put something back into the Club that gave me so much.”