Sunderland news

O'Neill standing by Cattermole

March 10, 2012
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill has stressed he has no intention of stripping Lee Cattermole of the captain's armband.

Lee Cattermole confronts Mike Dean
GettyImagesLee Cattermole was booked after just 45 seconds of the 1-1 draw at St James' Park

• Four-match ban for Cattermole

Cattermole, 23, has a reputation for being hot-headed when on the football field, having been sent off six times in his professional career so far.

The latest of those red cards came last weekend in the Tyne-Wear derby after referee Mike Dean handed the midfielder his marching orders following a verbal exchange post the final whistle.

The incident, which has resulted in a four-match ban, has led to fresh conjecture over whether Cattermole should be Sunderland's skipper. But, when asked about whether he has considered relieving Cattermole of his duties, O'Neill said: "No, absolutely not, no.

"I was asked a few weeks ago if I thought I had cured Lee and I'm afraid I stared into the abyss on that one. But on a serious note he has been absolutely fantastic, really terrific, whenever he has played for us.

"I am told he has taken on the role of the captaincy and does a lot of things here that I wasn't aware of, really good things around the football club like getting players to particular functions.

"But the sending-off is very disappointing. Lee will have to try to learn from that because they are major games he is missing at a very, very important stage of the season. There's no getting away from that."