LEE Cattermole admits that three international breaks so far this season are not helping his efforts to become the heartbeat of Gus Poyet’s new side.
The midfield dynamo has blossomed under the guiding hand of the Uruguayan in 2014.
And ideally he would have spent much more of the current campaign working on his game and looking to gel with the half-dozen new first-teamers who arrived in the summer.
But he is frustrated by a third international break so far, with just 11 Premier League games played, and the fact that he had to miss Sunderland’s last match through suspension.
And while there will always be players who welcome the breaks as a chance to rest-up, Cattermole is not one of them.
He told the Echo: “For me, I’ve had two two-week breaks already and now there’s a third following on the back of my suspension, so it’s very difficult to get into any rhythm.
“Personally, I’m just looking forward to this break getting out of the way.
“After that, it’s a massive part of the season for us coming up – a very busy spell at the end of November and through December.”
There’s an argument that this current break comes at a bad time for Sunderland, who went into it having put their horror show at Southampton and defeat to Arsenal behind them by taking four points from six in the games against Crystal Palace and Everton.
But Cattermole, who had been in excellent form before his suspension for the Everton game, hopes he and Sunderland can take up from where they left off when the league resumes.
He said: “Last November and December, that’s where we pulled things around last season.
“We had a good Christmas to give ourselves a chance, and then slackened off after the League Cup before picking it up again right at the end of the season.
“So this is an important time for us and we’ve got to keep our focus.
“We won’t get carried away by a couple of bad results – we’ve all been here before.
“And we know it’s all about holding your nerve, keeping that self-belief and making sure you play the best you can as an individual and as a team.”