Sunderland boss addresses Lee Cattermole criticism and reveals why he has a key role to play

Lee Cattermole has come in for heavy criticism this season but Chris Coleman insists the experienced midfielder has a big role to play for Sunderland.
Cattermole's lack of pace has affected his tackling.Cattermole's lack of pace has affected his tackling.
Cattermole's lack of pace has affected his tackling.

The 29-year-old has been on the end of fan frustration as Sunderland battle at the wrong end of the Championship following relegation from the Premier League.

Sunderland, buoyed by the 1-0 win over Fulham to lift them out of the drop zone, have found life in the second tier difficult.

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And Cattermole, in particular, has struggled to impose himself in the highly-competitive Championship.

Cattermole missed the win over Fulham after seeing red at Wolves following two yellow cards in less than a minute.

Coleman says fans have every right to voice their opinions but he has backed the midfielder, who joined Sunderland in the summer of 2009, to play a key role under him.

The former Wales boss believes Cattermole’s experience could prove vital as Sunderland look to drag themselves up the table.

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“If you look at Lee and his time here at Sunderland, nearly every season he has been in a battle against relegation,” said Coleman.

“He was out with his hip injury last season and now he has been in an environment where it was quite negative because we were relegated and this season has been so tough.

“He has been here a long time, as have one or two of the other boys.

“The supporters look at Lee Cattermole and players like that who have been here a while and sometimes they voice their opinions.

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“Fans have every right to do that, we only have one set of fans. We can never be critical of the supporters who will be here forever. We won’t be but they will.

“They have every right to say what they want to say, it is their club.

“But Lee’s experience of being in nitty, gritty situations will be important to us this season.

“In some areas were maybe he doesn’t have strengths, in other areas he has the strengths that we need.

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“His experience of course, in the position we are in, he will be an important player for us.”

Sunderland were forced to play a third of the game with ten men at Molineux but held on for a vital away point, Cattermole’s midfield partner Darron Gibson excelling late on.

The Republic of Ireland international produced his best performance yet in the holding midfield role against Fulham and Cattermole may find it hard to win back his place.

Coleman insists he will need to call on all of his squad this campaign.

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“Between now and the end of the season we are going to need everybody. Catts is no different, especially with his experience,” added Coleman ahead of the visit of Birmingham City to the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

“Sometimes you want to play with two holding midfielders, it depends.

“Catts was missing Fulham of course but last week we had him and Gibbo in there and looked more solid against a team in Wolverhampton who have been scoring freely.

“Against Fulham we didn’t have two natural holding midfielders available, we only have one in Gibbo and it was another good game for Darron and I was pleased for him.”