LEE CATTERMOLE is confident Sunderland will grow as the campaign wears on after an opening day point at West Brom.
Sunderland came away with a share of the spoils at The Hawthorns on Saturday after Seb Larsson’s late leveller immediately equalled the points tally the Black Cats managed from the first eight games of last season.
Midfielder Cattermole admits there are plenty of areas for Sunderland to work on, particularly after a first half where Gus Poyet’s side were uncharacteristically poor in their possession-based strategy.
But the 26-year-old was encouraged by a draw against the Baggies and believes the mental strength gained from last season’s remarkable escape from the jaws of relegation, will leave Sunderland battle-hardened as the campaign progresses.
Cattermole told the Echo: “I think we’re going to get stronger and stronger as the season goes on.
“After last season and what happened, the core of the team that went through that are still here.
“We know we can’t panic. It’s a long season and you’ve got to keep going.
“The first half on Saturday, we maybe didn’t play to the level we’ve been playing in pre-season or how we want to do, but it’s the first game of the season.
“It’s always going to be tough in front of a full house, away from home.
“But it’s a good result for us in the end.”
He added: “We lost Santi (Vergini) just before the game and moved Wes (Brown) to right-back, which is very difficult because you lose the partnership with John (O’Shea) which is crucial to us.
“Things like that didn’t help, but we’ve come away with a point and we’ll look to build on that now.
“It’s a good point considering we didn’t play anywhere near as well as we know we can do.
“But, in the second half, there were signs there, as we came on strong.
“That late equaliser was huge for us – massive. A point was probably a fair result.”
Cattermole netted his second goal in eight games for Sunderland with a stunning early opener after only ending an almost six-year drought in red and white when he scored at Spurs, back in April.
“It’s not my job to score the goals,” said the former Middlesbrough and Wigan midfielder.
“I’m obviously delighted that I did score and could help the lads, but, for me, I’d love to see the whole team keep a clean sheet in the role I’m playing.
“But whenever I score, they seem to be alright!
“I was pretty happy with that.”
Meanwhile, Cattermole agreed with Sunderland boss Poyet that the penalty handed to West Brom on the stroke of half-time was a poor decision by referee Neil Swarbrick.
Valentin Roberge was harshly adjudged to have tugged back Victor Anichebe on the turn, with Saido Berahino cancelling out Cattermole’s opener.
“I couldn’t comment until I watched it back and we’re very disappointed really. It’s a soft one which has gone against us,” added the Teessider.
“But maybe, over the course of the season, we’ll get one of them.”