Sunderland squad back Lee Cattermole with strong message as midfielder suffers penalty heartbreak
Sunderland's players have backed Lee Cattermole to bounce back strong from his Wembley heartbreak.
Cattermole's missed penalty in the shoot-out proved vital as every other player scored, Oli Hawkins eventually netting the winner for Pompey.
The experienced midfielder had been excellent during the game, resilient as the Black Cats struggled in the latter stages.
Luke O'Nien said Cattermole was one of the main reasons for Sunderland's success this season.
“It's not just Lee," he said.
"However it went, we take it collectively.
“We're all disappointed but there's a quick turnover now.
“He's one of the reasons why we're so high up in the league and doing well," he added.
"No one even blinks an eye at that.
“He was very brave to step up and take a pen, so credit to him.
“He was the one that missed but someone's got to miss and today it was our turn.”
Grant Leadbitter said it was a pleasure to play alongside the midfielder and said he will bounce back when the Black Cats travel to Accrington Stanley on Wednesday night.
“We all know Catts is a top, top character and for me he doesn't get enough credit for what he's done at this football club over the years he's been here," he said.
“I know things and he keeps the dressing room together.
“I know he's been through some tough times at this football club and Catts is a massive part of this football club, I'm sure he will be in the future. It's a pleasure to play alongside him because he's a top, top guy and I'm sure he's a strong enough character to bounce back on Wednesday night."
Max Power said he looked up to Cattermole and praised him for stepping up.
"Lee Cattermole is someone I look up to and he epitomises this football club," Power said.
"That's penalties, it could have been anyone.
“It takes a brave man to step up and take one and it's only enhanced my respect for him but that's football. It's a really tough way to lose a game."