LEE CATTERMOLE believes Danny Welbeck should have been crowned PFA Young Player of the Year as Sunderland prepare to lock horns with their former loanee this weekend.
Manchester United hitman Welbeck is expected to shake off the ankle injury which ruled him out of last weekend’s victory over Swansea, to return to the fold for Sunday’s title-decider at the Stadium of Light.
The England international has thrived at Old Trafford since returning from last season’s loan spell at Sunderland – netting 10 goals in 25 Premier League starts for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.
Black Cats skipper Cattermole, who voted for Welbeck in the PFA young player poll – eventually won by Tottenham’s Kyle Walker, is well aware of the threat Welbeck will pose as Sunderland look to finish their season in style by denying United the Premier League crown.
Cattermole told the Echo: “I put Danny as the young player of the year this year.
“After (Javier) Hernandez had such a good year last year, to go back and play as many games in the team as Danny has, is brilliant for him.
“He’s a great player and did really well for us.
“But if we can beat Man United that would be a great way to finish the season for us.
“It’s going to be a tough game. They’ll be right at it and we’ll have to match them.
“For a footballer to be playing against Man United, it’s always good, it’s always challenging.”
Sunderland require a victory to stand any chance of securing a second successive top 10 finish after drawing five of their last seven games.
“If we could match what we did last year, that would be good,” said Cattermole.
“We’ve come a long way in the last few months, picked up a lot of points, got ourselves in a good position and we did well in the FA Cup.
“But we had a lot of games and we had quite a few injuries as well, so it’s been tough.
“We’ve had a couple of games where we could have kicked on and maybe looked at an eighth finish.
“That was still on the cards if we’d beaten Fulham.
“But we’ve ended up drawing games we think we were capable of winning and it slipped away from us.
“But if we can win on Saturday and get 10th, that would be a great achievement.”
Cattermole will continue in Sunderland’s midfield on Sunday after returning against Bolton a fortnight ago following a knee ligament problem.
The 24-year-old was forced to miss two games with the injury, but is glad he has been able to play a part in the conclusion to Sunderland’s campaign.
“The knee’s fine now, it’s settled down nicely,” added the former Middlesbrough midfielder.
“I got a little jab in it leading up to the Bolton game and I hadn’t trained as much as I’d liked.
“But if I could play games and finish the season, then I was always going to want to do that.”