Lee Cattermole opens up on his Sunderland captain and a thriving partnership with Grant Leadbitter

Lee Cattermole says George Honeyman can drive the club forward in the coming years.

Honeyman, a good friend and midfield partner of Cattermole, is set to mark his rise through the academy ranks by leading Sunderland out at Wembley on Sunday.

Cattermole has occasionally taken the armband this season in the absence of Honeyman and has been a stalwart of what has been a promising campaign so far.

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The 31-year-old has been impressed by Honeyman’s approach and says he can part of a group of players who push on in the coming years.

“For the gaffer to give George the armband just shows what a good lad he is and his attitude to training, he sets a great example,” Cattermole said.

“He was the one pulling people along when the club was really down on its knees, he was demanding of people.

“I didn’t know my situation in the summer but he definitely pulled me along, he is always out on the training ground wanting to improve.

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“He has done a great job, he leads by example. We have a good age group of players that can form a core and push the club onwards.

“A good set of lads in between 21 to 25 who can pull the club on, George can be the leader in that, he has done a great job.

“He has to do a lot of stuff that is outside of playing football, that can be hard to do when you are young at the start of your career but he has done it well.”

Sunderland’s Checkatrade final midfield will have a distinctly north east flavour, with Honeyman and Cattermole likely to line up alongside Grant Leadbitter.

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Leadbitter has been exceptional since returning to the club in January, adding a major threat from set pieces and showing his experience in the heart of the pitch.

His flourishing partnership with Cattermole has been one of the major positives for Sunderland since the end of the January window, and a key advantage in their final push for a League One automatic promotion place.

Leadbitter admits the pair have a ‘natural’ understanding and is enjoying playing alongside him.

“I have known Granty all my footballing career, from a young lad when I was at Boro and he was at Sunderland,” he said.

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“I have played England levels with him. He is a good player. Someone who has played where we have played [Premier League etc] you always find a way of making it work.

“It became very natural, we didn’t even have to speak about it. He has probably played more in a two sitting at Middlesbrough so I asked him a few questions about that.

“It has been good, I am enjoying it. The gaffer added well in January and made us stronger and it is great to have the lads here.”