SUNDERLAND boss Steve Bruce is backing deposed captain Lee Cattermole to bounce back from the disappointment of being dropped from the team.
The 23-year-old midfielder was left sitting on the bench last Sunday as Bruce took drastic action following a disappointing start to the season and was rewarded with a thumping 4-0 Barclays Premier League victory over Stoke.
But the manager- who has bought Cattermole twice, for Wigan and Sunderland - revealed his enforcer took the blow on the chin after a run of niggling injuries and has already started the fightback.
Bruce said: "Typical of Lee, he has rolled up his sleeves and got on with it, and he has trained like a beast this week.
"I think he understood that the fight with injuries and all the rest of it, that he wasn't quite there at the moment.
"He understood it and took it like the man he is and make no mistake, he will be doing as much as he can to get himself back into the team."
John O'Shea wore the captain's armband against the Potters, although Bruce has repeatedly denied speculation that the former Manchester United defender would take over as skipper on a permanent basis.
Cattermole and Jack Colback were among three men to make way - the suspended Phil Bardsley was the third - after a run of five games in all competitions without a win.
However, Bruce was vindicated as his side produced their best and most sustained display of the campaign to date to end their drought.
He said: "On Sunday, I might have got it right. Before the game, there would be people questioning me, saying 'Why is he playing him?' and 'Why is he not playing him?'.
"That's football management. You are paid to make big decisions, sometimes difficult ones.
"It was difficult to leave the captain out, it was difficult to leave Jack Colback out, but I just thought the balance of the team wasn't quite right.
"On Sunday, thankfully the result goes your way and for me, the balance was better than it had been in the previous couple of weeks."