Angry Martin O’Neill stands by Sunderland skipper

Martin O'Neill

Martin O'Neill

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LEE CATTERMOLE has avoided any additional internal disciplinary procedures from Sunderland despite the fifth red card of his Black Cats career.

But that does not signify a softening stance from Martin O’Neill, with the Sunderland boss still fuming at his skipper for the dismissal which keeps him out of action until the end of October.

Cattermole has been fined in accordance with club rules and apologised for the lunging tackle which saw him earn a straight red in Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup victory at MK Dons.

The 24-year-old missed five games last season through suspension and his latest indiscretion sees him miss tomorrow’s clash with Wigan, the trip to Premier League champions Manchester City plus the Wear-Tyne derby.

O’Neill told the Echo: “It will be the same discipline for him as usual.

“He’s obviously very, very sorry about it now in the cold light of day.

“But feeling sorry about it and doing something are two very different things.

“I suppose he genuinely thinks he will learn from it, but then I wouldn’t want to vouch for that.

“It’s not good being sent off five times for the club, seven times in his career, so we’ll have to look at it.

“That’s not something to be proud of.

“If you include the international break, he misses a month.

“He missed some big, important games last season.

“He didn’t play at Goodison Park when we got the draw for example, and we need him around.”

O’Neill vowed to consider Cattermole’s suitability as captain after MK Dons and was again questioned at length yesterday over whether the midfielder’s status was in jeopardy.

The indication from O’Neill was that Cattermole is likely to remain as skipper, yet the manager is clearly still both baffled and infuriated by the former Middlesbrough man’s tackle on MK Dons full-back Adam Chicksen after losing control of the ball.

“I’ve time to think about it now, but if pushed about it, he’s the captain,” added O’Neill.

“I have to attempt some sort of balance because for one still so young in the game, he is actually a very decent leader.

“He gives us drive and determination and I look to him for that. That helps immensely.

“He can close players down as effectively as anyone I’ve ever known. But he has to curb this lunging at players.

“That sending off was inexcusable because he picked the ball up, ran 20 yards with it and he was going very well.

“If you’d told me as he manoeuvred it first of all that by the end of it, he’d be off the pitch, I wouldn’t have believed it.

“He’s overrun it and gone in full-blooded.”