Why Sunderland's Lee Cattermole has surprised Steve McClaren

Lee Cattermole, centre
Lee Cattermole, centre
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It's almost a decade since Steve McClaren handed Lee Cattermole his debut in a Tyne-Tees derby.

That day, Cattermole was the man of the match as Middlesbrough, then managed by McClaren, drew 2-2 against Newcastle United at St James's Park.

Jack Colback

Jack Colback

Newcastle head coach McClaren felt, at the time, that Cattermole was destined to have a good career in the game.

But he admits the 27-year-old Sunderland midfielder has exceeded his expectations over the past nine years.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow's Wear-Tyne derby at the Stadium of Light, McClaren said: "(He has) done better than what I thought he would do.

"I think he's done terrific. We gave him his debut in a derby game, and he was excellent, man of the match. He's a good footballer as well – he's done very well. Very good.”

Meanwhile, McClaren has Jack Colback available to him for the derby after the former Sunderland midfielder – who will go head to head with his close friend Cattermole – escaped a fourth booking of the season in last weekend's 6-2 win over Norwich City.

Asked about his importance to United, McClaren said: "Very, so he did well to avoid that (a one-game suspension). So I'm delighted."

McClaren feels Colback's derby experience will prove important to Newcastle, who have lost their last five games against Sunderland.

“I think it's probably an advantage for us in terms of he knows what it's about, he can transmit that and transfer it over.

"You know there's always little things in derbies which you need to be aware of and I'm sure he knows from both sides every trick of the trade.”