Titus Bramble - a player many fans want to see shipped out - could yet have a future on Wearside according to Martin O'Neill.
In what comes as a relative shock, Martin O'Neill has gone on record as saying troubled defender Titus Bramble may have a future on Wearside.
Speaking with the Northern Echo, the manager said that subject to Bramble gaining fitness, he's a player he's looking to keep around the club;
Titus has had a few injury problems, but he's over those now. A fit Titus Bramble is an asset to us, he needs to stay fit that's the main thing.
It's an interesting one, we don't want to overcook it but we need him properly fit. You might get away with half a game or one game, but if you're in there you'll get found out. We can't have him going through seven or eight games.
This comes as a big surprise given Bramble has never looked particularly fit since his early twenties - by which we mean in peak physical condition as opposed to carrying an injury - so why he might suddenly regain that fitness, even in a contract year. Many fans remain hopeful that this will be Bramble's final year at the club barring a dramatic improvement in fitness and in form.
From a personal perspective, and I speak for myself only here - I can't see Titus turning it around. I know he's said that he's going to but the same old mistakes seem to be creeping into his game once again, and we're only at the preseason stage when he should be relatively mentally fresh. Not to mention he looks incredibly overweight for a professional athlete, still.
O'Neill also went on to explain other players might be leaving an already very small squad, as well as explaining a little more about the decision to let Michael Turner leave the club;
I said to some of the players here, if an opportunity arises, I will look at it. Norwich were prepared to give him at least a three-year deal, I thought 'fine'.
I can't guarantee first-team football, so fair play to him. If it hadn't materialised, I'd have been pretty pleased, he was still in my plans. It's a position where my concern is we do have a number of players at centre-half who have had injury problems, which is why we brought in Carlos Cuellar.
With O'Neill declaring he sees Cuellar and John O'Shea as central defenders, despite their versatility, it leaves us well stocked in the middle with them two, Wes Brown, Matt Kilgallon as well as Bramble and youngsters John Egan and Louis Laing, who O'Neill seems very keen on.
If offers are to come in for players who O'Neill "can't guarantee" first team football for, the likes of Ahmed Elmohamady, David Meyler, David Vaughan, Matt Kilgallon and possibly even a mild shock in the likes of Fraizer Campbell or Ji Dong-Won could all be on their way out of the club.