George Honeyman opens up on Lee Cattermole, captaincy and Sunderland's superb form
Lee Cattermole held Sunderland together in the first half at Kingsmeadow and in the second he powered them to victory
The 29-year-old made countless defensive interventions in the opening 45 as Sunderland struggled, breaking up the play, heading away countless dangerous crosses.
Most encouraging for the Black Cats was the way he went on to find another gear, leading a host of counter-attacks as the visitors got back into the game, finding himself in the right place at the right time to score a fine brace.
For captain George Honeyman, that energy is somnething he expects to see all season, providing the midfielder stays past the closing of the transfer window this week.
“That was Lee at his best, although I don’t think scoring two goals is going to be the norm for him! I think he’s been playing really well recently anyway,” Honeyman said.
“The Scunthorpe and Gillingham games, he’s been right at it.
“He’s had a load of injuries in the last couple of years, but he’s played through a load for the good of the club when it’s been in relegation fights, and it’s probably taken its toll on him.
“He’s had a year playing last year, and I think we’ll reap the benefit of him having played a season fully fit this year.
“He’ll be huge for us if he stays, and we all really hope he does. I’m just delighted for him because it’s been a rough couple of years for everybody at the club, but for him especially."
The away support chanted Cattermole’s name throughout the latter stages of the game, and Honeyman believes that he and Bryan Oviedo have shown their professionalism as they again made a significant impact on the pitch.
“You can see how much the fans idolise Lee,” he said.
“He’s had ups and downs, like the whole club, but I don’t think you can ever question his commitment or how much he wants the club to do well.
“I’m just glad that it all seems to be coming together – I couldn’t be happier for him.
“They’re [Cattermole and Oviedo] proper professionals.
“At the end of the day, it’s their job and they’re proud to do it properly. If you look at any of their previous clubs, no matter what the situation, they’ve always given it everything, and that’s exactly what they’ve done here.
“It’s credit to them, and I’m just happy they’re getting their rewards through winning games.
“We’ve got a young team so it’s invaluable having lads like that around us. We obviously don’t know what’s going to happen with the loan window shutting at the end of the week, but if you ask anyone in the squad, they’d all say that we’d be absolutely delighted for them to stay.
“We’ll see what happens, and it’s obviously out of the players’ hands, but we all know how important they’ve been for us so far.
“I rang Lee when the manager called me in and offered me the captaincy. I accepted it straight away, but he’s going to be backing me up through it all and it’s amazing to have someone of his experience and stature.
“I also spoke to John O’Shea, who was the previous captain, and they both said that if you get it right, it’s the best role to have.
“It’s a real honour and a pleasure at the moment.
Honeyman believes that Black Cats have overcome a significant hurdle by winning at Kingsmeadow, showing their ability to tough it out during difficult periods.
“In recent games, we’ve been playing some real free-flowing, pressing, attacking football, and that didn’t really get going here.
“There was a little bit in the second half, but sometimes, we’re going to have to find different ways to win.
“We’re not always going to get our own way and be able to pass teams off the park. That was probably the most pleasing win of the season.
“It wasn’t our best performance, but to come back from a goal down and win in those kind of circumstances shows what the team is about.
“Speaking to the lads who have played in League One, they say that it doesn’t come much tougher than the two away games we’ve played this week,” he added.
“So to come away with six points from that stands us in good stead. We want to be a passing team and an attacking team this year, but we’re not always going to get our way for 90 minutes, so to come away with three points there is massive.
“It stands us in good stead for the rest of the season.”