LEE Cattermole is prepared to risk aggravating a knee injury in a bid to drive Sunderland on to a strong finish to the season.
The skipper has been quietly playing on through a medial ligament strain for several matches but hopes to nurse it through to the end of the campaign so he can lead Martin O’Neill’s quest for an uplifting end to the campaign.
He was brought off in the dying seconds of Sunderland’s superb display against Manchester City at the weekend after feeling the injury but has no plan to drop out of the starting line-up if he can help it.
He revealed: “I felt my medial a little in the Everton game but I was fine after that. Then I just felt it again in the closing stages at City. Just tweaked.
“It won’t be a problem though. There was just a little stretch of my ligament. I went off as a precaution.”
Cattermole wants to play every remaining match if he can, desperate to remain a part of a side which he now says has nothing to fear but itself.
“The games we have lost, we have not turned up in,” he explained. “That’s the disappointing thing. Out of the 20 games we’ve played under this gaffer we have been brilliant in 15 or 16 of them.
“You could not fault our effort at Man City, we got the ball down, passed it and at times they couldn’t live with us.
“Nicklas Bendtner was brilliant, Stephane Sessegnon was outstanding, Seb Larsson was back to his best. Everyone was.
“Matty Kilgallon was disappointed not to play the last couple of games. He came in for Soto Kyrgiakos, who has been tired, and Matt was brilliant.
“To end up drawing by conceding two in the last five minutes from 25 yards is disappointing. But when things do settle down we will be happy, I’m sure.”
Though the captain shared his team-mates disappointment in the dressing room afterwards, he was quick to see the bigger picture and admiring of the way their manager had lifted the side after the poor performance against Everton in the FA Cup quarter-final replay last week.
“We took Manchester City apart on their own pitch,” he reflected. “Once we got the ball down, I didn’t think they had the hunger to chase the ball down.
“It was a great response from us from the Everton game. Our performance was brilliant.
“It was such a shame to lose a game – or draw, it just feels like we lost – to two long range efforts that have been deflected.
“But we are not going allow our season to fizzle out and we have to show we deserve the three points in every game we play.
“The gaffer made us watch the first half against Everton.
“It was even more frustrating watching the game because I felt we were in that game at half-time.
“We’ve put that behind us now though.
“The manager told us he was happy with what we had achieved under him, that we have still got a lot to play for this season, and that we couldn’t afford to dwell on the defeat to Everton.”