LEE CATTERMOLE admits the stop-start nature to the opening months of the Premier League campaign is tough for Sunderland’s non-internationals.
Sunderland face a two-week international break after tomorrow’s trip to Swansea and will then play just four top-flight games before another fortnight’s hiatus.
While 10 of Sunderland’s first-teamers have received a call-up for their countries, the likes of Cattermole are left training with a skeleton squad at the Academy of Light.
And with tomorrow’s game only Sunderland’s second league encounter of the season – after last weekend’s clash with Reading was called off – the Black Cats skipper says the start of the campaign is hardly conducive towards building match fitness.
Cattermole told the Echo: “If you’re an international player, it might be all right because you keep playing football.
“For those of who are not, we’ve got a few days off and you just have to try to stay focused.
“We’ve played two games, then a two-week gap and then another couple of games before another gap.
“So it is hard, but thankfully there’s a long spell from October through to the March internationals.
“There was a massive buzz around the place before Reading and it was a shame in the end. But we’ve got to move on from that and we’ll have to play the game again.”
At least Tuesday’s Capital One Cup success against Morecambe provided a chance for some much needed competitive minutes for Sunderland’s players, particularly £12million arrival Steven Fletcher who had featured just once for Wolves during pre-season.
“He’d only played one game during pre-season, so Tuesday was a great game for him to come into,” said Cattermole.
“It’s in the bank now and if we can get another 60 or 70 out of him tomorrow, that’ll be great.
“It does take time to build up your fitness though.”
Sunderland face a Swansea side who have won both of their opening two Premier League games, netting eight times in the process.
But the Black Cats beat the Swans at the Stadium of Light last season and got a creditable 0-0 draw on their visit to the Liberty Stadium.
Cattermole added: “Swansea have started like a house on fire.
“But we went there last year and drew there, when Asamoah (Gyan) missed a good chance.
“I’m sure we can go there and cause them a threat.
“They’re a good team, but every team can beat everyone. We’ve got to go there and be positive.
“There’s some great attacking players in the squad now, so we can go there and have a go.”