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O'Neill standing by Cattermole

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

• 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."


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