TITUS Bramble admits he thought Reading were destined for the drop when Sunderland secured only a second win in 11 games at the Stadium of Light in December.
But the Sunderland defender is wary of a far more testing encounter tomorrow, with the Royals transforming their fortunes after a return of 10 points from their last five games.
Sunderland’s 3-0 win over the newly-promoted side before Christmas was part of a sequence of seven successive defeats for Brian McDermott’s side, which sunk them to the bottom of the Premier League table.
Yet victory over West Ham on December 29 has prompted a dramatic revival in Reading’s fortunes.
Stunning late comebacks against West Brom, Newcastle and Chelsea have seen Reading secure a further seven points and McDermott’s men now find themselves out of the relegation zone, albeit on goal difference.
Bramble, pictured, says Reading, like Sunderland, have demonstrated the difference a run of consistent results can make and knows the tough tussle which awaits Sunderland in their first visit to the Madejski Stadium since 2007.
The centre-half told the Gazette: “When they came here, they looked like they were staring at relegation.
“But recent results have picked up, and we know it’s going to be a tough game because they’re fighting for their lives.
“The thing about the Premier League, and why it’s the best in the world, is that anybody can beat anybody.
“A couple of wins and you are back in mid-table.”
Sunderland are in confident mood themselves after taking seven points out of a possible nine.
And although Sunderland struggled to muster any attacking threat in Tuesday’s drab stalemate with Swansea, Martin O’Neill’s men still secured a second clean sheet in three league games.
“Seven points from nine is good,” added Bramble.
“Confidence is high now, which is the main thing, and hopefully we can keep putting points on the board.
“Neither team really created much against Swansea.
“It was a case of everyone keeping their concentration, and making sure we kept our defensive shape.
“We minimised their chances – even though they could have scored in the last minute – and that’s what we work on in training.”