Martin O’Neill is keen for Sunderland to begin contract talks with skipper Lee Cattermole, writes Chris Young
Midfielder Cattermole is entering the final 12 months of his deal and would be available to leave for nothing next summer.
But O’Neill has confirmed he wants to keep Cattermole at the Stadium of Light after the 24-year-old played a key role in the Black Cats’ resurrection over the second half of last season.
O’Neill admits there is baggage that comes with Cattermole after the Teessider was fined £4,000 for vandalising cars in Newcastle during a night out in December and collected 13 yellow cards and one red card during the course of the campaign.
Yet the Sunderland boss has already told Cattermole of his desire to keep him at Sunderland and continues to see him playing an integral role.
“My own particular view is that he’s got a year left to run – he’s in the position where, in many aspects, he’s in a driving position,” said O’Neill.
“I’d want to keep him at the football club, I’ve said that to him. I’m hoping that we would start some negotiations in the very near future.
“People asked about his discipline, which is something I think you’d want to improve on this year.
“You think you have got it all sorted out and then you walk to the dressing room after the Newcastle game to find your captain’s been sent off. Then you think ‘there we go’.
“My own view is that, despite the trials and tribulations of a few off the field problems, Lee’s done very well under me.
“My personal view is that I want him to stay and I’d like us to get a contract sorted that would keep him here.”
Cattermole is one of a number of first-teamers with only a year left on their deals, with Michael Turner, Titus Bramble, Matt Kilgallon, Fraizer Campbell and Kieran Richardson all facing a pivotal few months.
O’Neill will hold individual talks with his players during Sunderland’s pre-season tour to South Korea, as he decides on those who have a future at the Stadium of Light.
“I haven’t had a chance to speak to the players properly,” he added.
“It will be something I will do in Korea about where I see them either fitting in or what I think they can do themselves to help them improve themselves and the team.
“That’s what I intend to do.
“This conversation I was going to have with them at the end of last season, but it broke up very, very quickly.”