LEE CATTERMOLE’S recent form is ensuring Liam Bridcutt is forced to bide his time on the sidelines, says Gus Poyet.
Ex-Brighton man Bridcutt was reunited with Poyet in the January transfer window after the Sunderland boss had earmarked a key role as the anchor man in the Black Cats midfield.
When Bridcutt arrived on transfer deadline day, Sunderland were seriously considering a £5million offer from Stoke City for Cattermole before eventually deciding to reject the Potters’ advances.
But since then, Cattermole has become one of the linchpins in Poyet’s side, with the Teessider playing a key role in Sunderland’s successful survival bid and then continuing in that form in last weekend’s Premier League opener at West Brom.
“It’s another example of how football works,” said Poyet.
“Most people thought when I brought in Liam Bridcutt that he would be first-choice.
“Probably I was thinking Liam was ready to step up after that game against Newcastle (his debut).
“But if Liam is not playing it’s not because of him, it’s because of Lee Cattermole.
“The day Lee doesn’t deserve to play, he won’t play.
“But the kind of form Lee and Seb Larsson came back in, was giving them the chance to start.
“And if you start, you can keep the position by performing.
“Of course, if we go in a bad run for so long, maybe I will try something different.
“But, at the moment, Lee is a key player for us.”
Cattermole has thrived in a more controlled remit under Poyet, rather than the midfielder who charged around the pitch under Steve Bruce and Martin O’Neill’s tenures.
Poyet believes that the 26-year-old’s quick grasp of the Uruguayan’s possession-based philosophy has seen him be a success.
The Sunderland boss added: “Lee was always asking questions, listening, knowing what we wanted to do and putting things in place that he didn’t do before.
“He’s telling people now to do it and that shows you how he’s always willing to be in the team.”