GUS Poyet has hailed the contribution made by former skipper Lee Cattermole in recent weeks and says the Teessider is just the sort of player needed for the sort of relegation scrap Sunderland find themselves in.
The Black Cats’ boss has been full of praise for the character and heart of all the players who have been involved in the past few games.
But Poyet says Cattermole is a player who has embodied the spirit in the camp and who deserves his place in the side, even if there have been questions raised over a disciplinary record which is spattered with yellow and red cards.
“Lee is a player who has had a certain reputation but he has been superb for me,” Poyet said.
“He has been exceptional. Positive. Every time fit.
“He has been organising others and keeping them right, he has been available and playing all the time.”
Cattermole has picked up five yellow cards in his last eight games - including the last two matches, against Manchester City and Chelsea.
But he has had only one red card all season and has played every minute of all three stirring Sunderland performances recently - against Everton, Manchester City and Chelsea.
“What is the problem?” Poyet asked. “That he will get sent off one day? Yeah? Well me too, and Roy Keane, and Dennis Wise, and Paul Scholes - it’s the character of certain players, they are going to get a red card.
“It’s just a question of making sure they don’t get too many red cards because if they do, that’s a problem, because then you’re missing too many games.
“If he gets sent off too often, another player will get to play three games, and if they play those three games and win them, he will struggle to get back into the side.
“But I need strong committed players at my club and Lee Cattermole is one of them.
“It’s just important for him to keep playing like he’s playing but look to avoid too many reds - which he is showing signs of doing.
“He has been influential for us in games and every knows he is a player who will never give up.
“The Lee I know - not the Lee others talk about - the Lee I know, has been great and he can be very important for us in these remaining few games.”