LEE CATTERMOLE admits talk at losing the captain’s armband affected his self-belief during the early exchanges of the campaign.
But the midfielder insists he is beginning to get back into the groove after reclaiming a place in the Sunderland starting line-up following his dip in form.
Speculation was rife during the summer that John O’Shea would succeed Cattermole as Black Cats skipper after arriving in a £5million deal from Manchester United.
Although O’Shea has captained Sunderland in Cattermole’s absence, boss Steve Bruce has kept faith with the influential 23-year-old.
Being Black Cats skipper has not made Cattermole immune from the chop though, with the ex-Middlesbrough man left out for two games before returning against Man United and Fulham.
Cattermole told SportMail: “John came in during the summer and straight away, all the headlines were ‘Lee loses the captaincy’.
“Maybe that put a bit of doubt in my mind.
“The gaffer made it clear to me that that wasn’t going to be the case.
“But it’s stuff that adds up and you start asking questions of yourself.
“I’m a confident lad though and I don’t think you become a bad player overnight.
“If you look at the amount of games I’ve played for my age, there won’t be many in the country who’ve played more.
“I’ve been a regular now for a long time and I’m really hungry.
“I thought I did well at Man United and had a decent game last weekend.
“It’s been hard, but I think it’s going to make me a better player.
“You get confidence from playing well at a place like Man United and my level of training has gone up since then.”
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