GUS POYET insists he wouldn’t contemplate swapping Lee Cattermole for any other defensive midfielder in the country.
Cattermole has been Sunderland’s stand-out performer in the opening two Premier League games of the campaign after the Teessider played a key role in the Black Cats remaining in the top flight at the end of last season.
Poyet refused to be drawn into the argument over whether Cattermole’s form should have seen him called up by Roy Hodgson this week after ex-Sunderland and now Newcastle midfielder Jack Colback was named in the England squad.
But the Sunderland boss admits that Cattermole is now a pivotal figure in his plans after he had signed former Brighton man Liam Bridcutt in the January transfer window to occupy the defensive midfield slot.
Poyet told the Echo: “The way we play and the way Lee covers and understands the game now, I wouldn’t buy another player to replace him.
“Liam has been with us for three years. That was an easy one because he knows the role perfectly.
“He can play that with his eyes closed. Now he can play better or worse, but he knows the role.
“But Lee has learned that role to the point where it’s so impressive with his positioning and the way he defends.”
On whether Cattermole should have received an England call-up, he added: “I think that’s a question for Roy to answer.
“I don’t know the characteristics of the players he’s looking for.
“But you have to respect the decision of the national team manager.”
Colback has earned praise for his first two performances for Newcastle after rejecting a new contract at Sunderland during the summer to join the Magpies on a Bosman deal.
But Poyet believes Colback’s maiden call-up is predominantly down to his performances from last season in a Black Cats shirt after coming through the club’s academy system from the age of eight.
Poyet added: “I think Jack will agree with us that he spent all his career here and he knows how much this football club helped him and built him into the player he is today.
“If he’s in the national team, how much is up to Sunderland and how much up to Newcastle?
“In my opinion it’s 98 per cent to Sunderland and two per cent to Newcastle.
“He’s been there two-and-a-half minutes and he’s in the national team.
“That’s from what he’s done as a player here, not from what he’s done in the last month and a half.”