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Bramble leaps to defence of QPR after Redknapp finds himself under fire for Dubai trip
TITUS BRAMBLE has launched a staunch defence of Harry Redknapp's decision to take the Premier League's bottom club on a mid-season trip to Dubai at a time when the Sunderland squad also enjoyed the warmer weather.
The Black Cats face Queens Park Rangers this Saturday with Redknapp still spewing about the negative reaction the Middle East break received.
The QPR boss dismissed reports last Saturday that the trip had been marred by ill-discipline and all-night drinking and used the stories to inspire his side to a much-needed 2-1 victory over Southampton.
Martin O'Neill, his Sunderland counterpart, also took his players to Dubai last week - to take advantage of a free weekend.
O'Neill allowed his players spare time, but made sure they trained every day.
Redknapp stressed: "There was a coach there from Sunderland who said: 'Bloody hell Harry, you worked them this morning.' When we left they came on and he watched half our session so where people get this from I do not know."
Bramble, linked with a move to QPR last month, felt the attention Rangers received was unnecessary and believes such trips help team spirit.
The 31-year-old said: "I don't see the problem because we trained every day and I am sure QPR did the same. It's up to Harry how he runs his club.
"I don't see why everyone is making such a big deal out of it. If we were to be here (in Sunderland) training and then went out afterwards people wouldn't make anything out of it. Just because they did it in Dubai ... I don't see the issue.
"It's really important to bring you together as a squad. We have a few new signings and when you are at the training ground you are only here for a couple of hours. Then we all go to our different places. When the team is together constantly 24/7 the team bonding is that much better."
Despite Sunderland's lowly position this season, O'Neill has preserved a strong spirit within the dressing room - even before travelling to the Emirates.
Bramble, part of the team that drew 2-2 with Fulham on Saturday, said: "Since I have been at the club I have noticed the team spirit has always been good. When I first signed they made you feel part of the team straight away.
"It was easy to settle in. I think it is important that there are a lot of British lads here. A lot of the foreign lads have been in the country a long time as well. They know the British mentality. That's a key factor."
Whether Bramble will still be at the Stadium of Light next season is unclear.
The former Ipswich defender had looked to be on his way out up to the January transfer window, but has started the past nine matches.
While contract talks have not opened, Bramble admits he would not have to think twice if a new deal to stay came along.
"In football you never know what is going to happen," said Bramble. "I know I was linked with QPR, but I am not focused on that. Sunderland is my team and that is who I am playing for. I will give 100 per cent for Sunderland.
"I didn't know if my time here was coming to an end. I didn't think about it. I just came in every day, trained hard and what happens off the pitch will happen. I only care about what happens on the pitch.
"What happens in the summer happens. I am happy and settled here. I am out of contract. It's up to the manager and the directors what they want to do. I will happily sign a new contract here, but it's out of my hands."
Meanwhile, Sheffield Wednesday are trying to keep Sunderland striker Connor Wickham beyond his initial one-month loan.
Wickham, 19, is due back on Wearside next week and O'Neill could only name six of the allotted seven substitutes against Fulham.
Owls boss Dave Jones said: "I would like to keep Connor, definitely. It all depends what Martin O'Neill feels about him."
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