Sunderland boss delivers verdict on THOSE Grant Leadbitter corners and promising Lee Cattermole partnership after double standing ovation

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Grant Leadbitter and Lee Cattermole were paired together in midfield for the first time as Sunderland players - and both received a standing ovation from supporters.

Cattermole opened the scoring five minutes in against Gillingham at the Stadium of Light, with Leadbitter providing the assist.

Lee Cattermole celebrates his goal.

Lee Cattermole celebrates his goal.

The former Middlesbrough midfielder also provided the assist for Tom Flanagan from another of his corners, his fourth assist since arriving back home on Wearside.

The pair were both subbed to a standing ovation in the second half following their contribution to the 4-2 win, Ross praising their impact and influence.

Cattermole was recalled to the starting line-up, starting alongside Leadbitter for the first time in their Sunderland careers.

Leadbitter has been a shrewd January signing with four assists to his name already, all from corners.

He provided assists for Cattermole and Flanagan last night. And Ross was delighted with his central midfield pairing, bringing more control to the midfield.

Ross said: “We always reflect on each game and what we could do better. I said post Accrington we were quite open, something we had to bear in mind.

“The balance of Grant and Lee made us more secure and we controlled the game. Some think they are the same type of player, I don’t think they are.

“Lee has played most of his career on the front foot, maybe with the exception of his time under Gus [Poyet]. Grant gives that depth to the game. The balance between them was good.

“They also bring out the best in other players around them, hear how vocal they are and encourage other players. Their contribution was good, for the first time they have played together. I was pleased with how they did.”

And Leadbitter’s delivery from corners, Ross added: “It is nice to not be answering questions on set pieces! It is four assists now. His delivery was continually on the money. We have been searching for that level of consistency.

“You need to give yourself a chance with the consistent delivery.”