Lee Cattermole underlined his importance to this Sunderland side with a commanding display at the heart of midfield in the win over Doncaster Rovers.
And Jack Ross has revealed Cattermole’s ability to cope with the intense pressure as Sunderland battle for automatic promotion will prove key for the Black Cats.
Cattermole’s last appearance in a red and white shirt was in the Checkatrade Trophy final, the experienced campaigner missing the crucial penalty.
Having missed the following four games with an ongoing ankle concern, Cattermole - fresh from a full week of training - was back in the side for the visit of play-off hopefuls Doncaster.
Alongside the impressive Max Power, Cattermole won the majority of second balls and his dogged display in front of the Sunderland defence enabled the Black Cats to control the game.
Cattermole, 31, is enjoying life under Ross and the Scot was delighted to be able to call upon the midfielder again.
“We've had to manage Lee through the season,” said Ross.
“Lee knows that with the amount he's played throughout his career his body's taken a pounding at times. He's had different problems because of his competitive nature.
“But this week has been a good one for us because we've had not quite a full week but a good week's training which has allowed players to train properly and that's helped him.
“He's looked good in training.
“I was confident he would be okay and I thought he looked strong towards the end of the game.”
Sunderland bounced back strongly from the 5-4 defeat to Coventry City last time our, a game in which the Black Cats were cut open far too easily.
Cattermole helped bring more control to Sunderland’s play, constantly organising and encouraging his teammates.
Ross added: “We've got a lot of different options in terms of the team we pick but on the back of last week and the pressure that was building we just needed players on the park that can cope with that and Lee's one of those characters.
“He mentioned during the week about him bringing the best out of players around him because he organises and cajoles around the pitch and that's a big factor as well.”
Third-place Sunderland travel to Peterborough United on Easter Monday, with just four games of the League One campaign remaining.