LEE Cattermole led his players back into pre-season training today convinced that great days are just around the corner for Sunderland.
The skipper is excited about the new season ahead and has every faith the Black Cats can improve on last season’s 13th-place finish in what will be Martin O’Neill’s first full campaign in charge at the Stadium of Light.
“The break was good, even if it was longer than I would have liked,” said the 24-year-old.
“It even got to a point where I was looking forward to getting back into it!
“But this time of year is always exciting and a good time.
“This season is Martin’s main season and he’s had time to prepare.
“I’m sure he will bring some more players in.
“He will really stamp his authority on the side and that’s why it’s a really exciting year.
“Hopefully it will go well – I’m sure it will.”
It was a depleted squad that met up today, with those involved in international duties over the summer – John O’Shea, James McClean, Keiren Westwood, Seb Larsson, Stephane Sessegnon and Ahmed Elmohamady – given extra time away.
Absent too was Ji Dong-won – the South Korean preparing for a warm-up game with his country’s Olympic squad to face New Zealand on Saturday.
But new signing Carlos Cuellar was at the Academy of Light to meet his new team-mates, with Cattermole delighted with the 31-year-old Spaniard’s addition to the squad.
“Carlos has been a great player over the years,” said the Black Cats’ captain. “It will be good to have him on board.
“It shows what Martin thinks of him to sign him again.
“It’s a great time of the year when you get new faces and there’s a fresh approach to everything.
“Everyone is fresh and just looking forward to the new season now.”
Cattermole includes himself in that group of rejuvenated players, having shaken off a string of knocks he took into the close season.
“I finished last season with an ankle problem and I also fought a knee injury for a couple of months as well,” he acknowledged.
“But I’m fine now.
“It was just rest that was required for both injuries.”