THE question of whether Lee Cattermole and Ki Sung-Yueng could play successfully in the same Sunderland side was answered at the weekend, with both impressing against West Ham at Upton Park, writes GRAEME ANDERSON.
Ki has revelled in the defensive midfield role, just in front of the back four, that he slotted into after Cattermole’s sending off against Hull City at the start of November and subsequent three-match ban.
So well has the South Korean performed there that Cattermole has had to bide his time to get back into the starting line-up.
Saturday was the first time the two have started together under Gus Poyet – the Uruguayan deciding to give Cattermole the holding role and challenging Ki to produce his quality passing in a more congested part of the field where it could cause potentially cause more damage to the opposition.
Poyet said: “We had a chat about things with Ki.
“He prefers to play in front of the back four, but, of course, you need to work a lot defensively, and he’s not that type of player.
“So we said to him that we’d give him a chance to play further forward.
“He can pass the ball – he’s not the type of player where the ball is flying over his head.
“So it could be interesting for us if he plays there again – it could be an option for us.”
It certainly looked like an experiment worth persevering with as both excelled in their allocated jobs at West Ham.
The game brought a quick reunion for Cattermole and Andre Marriner – the referee who sent the midfielder off at Hull last month.
The potential flashpoint between the two was something Poyet had been aware of going into the game, but he still decided to start the game with the combative Teessider.
“I’m glad Lee played, and I’m glad he played well,” he said.
“He was one of our best players, in a game for him that was difficult to play.
“He knew that at any time there could have been a similar situation and I’m pleased that both had a good game and nothing happened.”