LIAM BRIDCUTT admits he has had to take his bit-part role for Sunderland this season on the chin.
Midfielder Bridcutt was back on the bench for last weekend’s stalemate at Leicester City, with Lee Cattermole going straight back into the starting XI after serving a one-match suspension.
After getting his move back to the Premier League last January, former Chelsea trainee Bridcutt was earmarked for a key role under his ex-Brighton manager, Gus Poyet.
However, Bridcutt has largely had to play second fiddle to Cattermole, despite a bright performance in his first top-flight outing of the campaign against Everton three weeks ago.
With Cattermole emerging as a key figure for Sunderland though and winning the North East Football Writers’ Player of the Year title, Bridcutt has accepted Poyet’s decision.
“Of course it’s been frustrating,” said the £2.5million signing.
“No matter what, I always want to play and so you’re never going to be happy if you are on the bench.
“But we all accept that it’s the manager’s decision and you have to take it and be professional about it.”
Poyet did use Bridcutt and Cattermole together for the final 15 minutes at Leicester and did experiment with the pair as a double act last season.
However, in the three games the duo played together in March and April, Sunderland failed to register a single point.
Poyet has considered repeating that ploy this season, with tonight’s visit of league leaders Chelsea, followed by meetings against Manchester City and Liverpool, possibly offering an opportunity to trial the partnership again.
Bridcutt said: “Lee and I play in a similar position, and we always seem to be fighting for the shirt.
“Lee has done very well, and it (playing them together) is something for the manager to think about.
“He has a decision to make over whether to try and play us together or, if not, which one of us to play.
“I think we can play together, but really that’s up to the manager.”
The 25-year-old added: “He could play both of us. You never know with Gus. “When I was at Brighton, towards the end of the 2011-12 season I played alongside Alan Navarro, for instance, and we were quite similar.
“It’s up to Gus, though. Tactically, he is spot on and it just depends whether he feels he needs to take that approach.
“He might think that if the team is doing well and getting results then you stay with the same team. Why change a winning formula?
“But of course he might look at Chelsea or Man City or whoever, and make some change that he thinks will help for that particular game.
“He likes to try to find the weaknesses of the opposition and then try to expose it.”
H Sunderland spent more than £5million on agent fees in the last two transfer windows, new figures have revealed.
The annual table of agent payments by Premier League sides have shown Sunderland splashed out £5.2m between October 2013 and September 2014. That was an increase on the £4.6m Sunderland paid out in the previous 12 months.
However, given the amount of both incomings and outgoings at the Stadium of Light during that period, the figures are perhaps not surprising.
Five players arrived at Sunderland during the January window, with a further nine in the summer.
Sunderland have also had to shift the likes of Alfred N’Diaye, David Moberg Karlsson and Modibo Diakite, who were unwanted successors from the regimes prior to head coach Poyet’s arrival.