O'Neill: Cattermole will always get carded
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill has made the stark admission that Lee Cattermole may never overcome the disciplinary issues that have plagued his career.
Cattermole, 24, is entering the final year of his current deal with Sunderland, with O'Neill making no secret of his desire to keep the former Middlesbrough player on Wearside.
Speaking to the Journal, O'Neill said: "I would like him to stay, I have never wavered from that. He is in his final year of his contract and is in a decent bargaining position.
"He did well in the games he played last season, he missed as many as he played through one reason or another, generally suspension.
"Overall I am generally pleased with him and I would like him to stay. I'm hoping he feels the same. I can't have this conversation with the player every single day but I hope he is made an offer where he wants to stay," he added.
O'Neill was also willing to admit his midfielder's disciplinary issues - conceding that Cattermole is unlikely to ever curb the competitive streak that saw him collect ten yellow cards and one red last season.
"Cattermole will not have grown up when he is 40. My acerbic wit has not stopped him from being suspended. Will he change a great deal? Unfortunately not. But I like Cattermole, I do like him and might actually be a better golfer than he is a footballer!" O'Neill quipped.
"I have kept him as my skipper - I need my head examined, I don't know why. But he has done fine. The one thing about Lee, he wants to play everybody's shot for them. He wants to do everything. He wants to take the ball off the back four, join in everything.
"He needs to temper a few things and has done really well for me. Actually, deep down, he is a decent lad. He doesn't always show it, but really he is a decent lad."
The Black Cats manager also confirmed he intends to sit down with young striker Connor Wickham to discuss a potential loan move - as the striker looks to secure first team football.
"It's been a tough time for him. Steve bought him as one for the future. It's been tough for him to cement a place in the side under me. Connor knows what he has to do to try to nail a place in the side in a tough old league," O'Neill explained.
"I need to speak with him. We don't have the squad to send a lot of players out at any time. Some of the younger boys last season, we didn't mind sending them out, we would stagger them so you wouldn't have too many out at any one time."
He went onto add: "We don't have, at this minute, the biggest squad in the world after transfer deadline. However, we do have a number of forwards that I can give some thought to."