Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has praised defender Anton Ferdinand for his response to their bust-up earlier in the season.
The pair were embroiled in a training ground row in pre-season over allegations that Ferdinand was exaggerating the extent of a hamstring injury.
It appeared certain the centre-back would be sold, but he stayed and, after earning an chance due to the injuries of Titus Bramble, Michael Turner and John Mensah, he has impressed recently against former club West Ham and Bolton.
Bruce said in the Sunday Star ahead of Boxing Day's match at his old side Manchester United: "It is no secret we had a stand-up row, if that is what you want to call it, earlier on (this season).
"However, to be fair to him in the last two home games he has played very, very well and set himself a standard.
"That is all you can ask. He has had to be patient. He has seen Turner and Bramble and Mensah perform very well."
Bruce also thinks that Ferdinand's career has been hampered by the added burden of living up to the reputation of his brother, England captain and United defender Rio.
The Sunderland boss, who saw Ferdinand score a last-gasp own goal as his team were pegged back to a draw at United last season, said: "I think Rio is the biggest problem for Anton in some ways.
"There are too many comparisons between them and all his life he has had to deal with that and has suffered from that.
"Anton is his own man and his brother should not come into the equation.
"Anton always becomes tainted with those comparisons with his brother, and that makes it difficult for him because Rio is a superstar.
"There is nothing wrong with looking up to your brother, though. I look up to my younger brother, but we are totally different.
"I just hope Anton can emerge from Rio's shadow."
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