LEE CATTERMOLE is eager to put his Middlesbrough misery behind him by continuing Sunderland’s FA Cup charge.
Black Cats skipper Cattermole made a successful return to the starting line-up in Saturday’s fifth round victory over Arsenal after three weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring problem.
The injury ruled the 23-year-old out of both fourth round ties against his former club Boro, although he admits a trip to Wembley with Sunderland would provide more than adequate compensation.
“It was a really difficult week,” said Cattermole, who picked up his ninth yellow card of the season against Arsenal to leave him just one booking away from a two-game ban.
“I felt I was playing well in the build-up to those games – I had nine or 10 good ones on the spin, so, when the injury happened, I was thinking ‘Why is this happening now? Why this week?’ I was absolutely devastated.
“I was wondering whether I could risk it, but I had a scan and it showed there was a tear so there was no real decision to make.
“I knew there would hopefully be bigger games still to come and it is turning out that way.
“That was going to be my cup final. Now I just hope I can get to the real one!
“Everyone within the dressing room will be thinking we have a real chance.”
Cattermole shone against the Gunners on his return to the side as Sunderland out-fought an Arsenal side still smarting from their Champions League drubbing at AC Milan.
The former Wigan midfielder believes Sunderland are a threat to anyone in the top flight on current form after an eighth win in 11 games.
Cattermole added: “On the day, I thought we wanted it more than they did. Our spirit came shining through.
“We tackled, we passed and we were the better side.
“Arsenal had a lot of the ball, but never really hurt us. I don’t really think they were lacking confidence in their play.
“They played as they have done most of the season. They had a lot of the ball, but we set ourselves up right and played well.
“We look dangerous at the minute and are not going to be an easy side for anyone to play against. We are full of confidence and the lads are playing really well.
“We are going into every game thinking we are capable of winning whoever we are up against.
“No one has rolled us over throughout the season. There is no team in the league in better form than us.
“We have a lot of momentum and I do not think there has really been a dip in any of the games under the new manager.
“We have had a lot of matches and some difficult questions have been asked of us, but, if you look at the effort the lads are putting in, it is unbelievable.”