TITUS Bramble is mulling over a move to America as the final days of his Sunderland contract runs down.
The three-year deal the former Newcastle defender signed after joining from Wigan in the summer of 2010 expires at the end of next month.
And 31-year-old Bramble will not be offered a new one.
Among the options he is considering is a move to Major League Soccer, with several clubs having been alerted to his availability.
Bramble is one of the highest-paid players at Sunderland, and has produced plenty of good displays for the Black Cats during his time at the Stadium of Light.
But he has also proved injury prone – making just 42 league starts in three seasons – and several times has attracted embarrassing news headlines for off-field incidents.
On top of that, he is also 32 this summer, and new boss Paolo Di Canio’s drive is for fitter, faster and younger players.
Bramble’s Premier League career appears to have drawn to a close, with Steve Bruce at Hull City unlikely to revisit a player whose knee problems now restrict his ability to train.
And the defender is unlikely to fancy the long slog of a 46-game season in the Championship – even if a club at that level could afford anywhere near approaching his current wages.
After more than a decade in the top flight with Sunderland, Wigan and Newcastle, Bramble has nothing to prove.
And the fresh challenge of football in America in the twilight of his career would have a big appeal.
One thing for certain is that Bramble will be on his way out of Wearside, and he won’t be the only one as Sunderland prepare the way for an entirely new defence next season.
Matt Kilgallon and Phil Bardsley both featured in ‘Casino-gate’ – the story of bad behaviour which has made national headlines.
After their late-night session last week they are all but certain never to play again for the club.
Bruce is expected to made a bid for Bardsley this summer, and that would be an obvious fit for both player and the clubs involved – though the Echo can confirm that no offer has been made by the Tigers yet.
Meanwhile centre-half Kader Mangane, signed in January, will leave now his loan deal has ended.
And that will leave the club with just two first-team defenders – John O’Shea and Carlos Cuellar.