LEE CATTERMOLE will return to the first-team picture at an opportune time today.
Sunderland midfielder Cattermole has been a big miss during a month and a half on the sidelines after injuries have kept him out since the goalless draw at Aston Villa on December 28.
But after a week of running with Sunderland’s physios, Cattermole is due to recommence full training with the rest of the Black Cats squad today and could be in contention for Saturday’s crunch visit of West Brom.
With Sunderland at a low ebb after the pain of dispiriting defeats to QPR and Bradford – which have understandably prompted a barrage of criticism from supporters – head coach Gus Poyet hopes the return of Cattermole to the fold will provide the Black Cats squad with a boost.
“Lee Cattermole is back today and you know there will be a different kind of atmosphere and a bit of energy with that,” said Poyet.
The absence of Cattermole’s drive and bite in the middle of the park was particularly telling at Bradford on Sunday after Sunderland were outmuscled and out-fought by the League One outfit.
But without Cattermole, Sunderland’s form in 2015 as a whole has been poor, with just three wins from 10 games – two of which have been against Championship opposition in the FA Cup.
The Teessider was one of Sunderland’s most consistent performers during the first half of the season, but sustained a minor groin problem at the turn of the year which was only expected to sideline him briefly.
But on his way back to the fold, Cattermole sustained a knee injury which Sunderland had feared may require surgery.
However, Cattermole was given the all-clear from a specialist two to three weeks ago and is back for Sunderland’s run-in, as the Black Cats look to secure their Premier League survival.