KEVIN Ball was full of praise for ex-skipper Lee Cattermole and the Teessider’s man-of-the-match contribution in the Capital One Cup victory over Peterborough United last night.
The 25-year-old returned to Sunderland’s midfield in his first start since February.
And it was his hard-tackling and closing down which provided the platform from which the Black Cats went on to win the game.
Ball, who played the same midfield enforcer role in the final years of his own career, was quick to acknowledge the contribution of a player who found himself out in the cold for much of Paolo di Canio’s time in charge of the club.
He said: “Lee hadn’t played for a long period of time but I thought he put in an excellent performance - along with a lot of others.
“I thought the way he drove other players on was fantastic.
“He worked so hard on the ball and off the ball and he gave everything he could.
“In some ways it was the performance of a player who had been out for a long while.
“But it was also the performance of a player giving everything.”
Overall, Ball was delighted with the efforts of all his players given how turbulent a weekend the first team squad had undergone, a weekend which culminated in the dismissal of Di Canio after defeat at West Brom.
And last night it was understandable that he wanted to look forwards rather than backwards.
He said: “What you have to understand from my role at the club is that I’m quite distant from what goes on with the first team.
“I can only speak from the point of taking over and I’ve found them very professional and very hard working and I don’t have a complaint about how they’ve been since I got involved yesterday.”