GUS Poyet has defended Lee Cattermole after the midfielder picked up a two-game ban – and says that having him available for the Wear-Tyne derby is a boost for Sunderland.
Cattermole will miss Sunderland’s next two games, against Aston Villa a week on Saturday and the trip to West Ham on March 21, after picking up his 10th booking of the season against Hull City on Tuesday.
It’s just Lee - we know how he isSunderland boss Gus Poyet
The combative midfielder has been walking a disciplinary tightrope, and went into the game with nine yellow cards under his belt.
Poyet had said in the build-up to the Hull game that he didn’t want to put Cattermole on a leash, and that he should play his normal game.
However, the nature of his booking at the KC Stadium – a frustrating kick-out at former Sunderland player David Meyler – didn’t endear him to fans.
However Poyet – himself the subject of disciplinary action from the referee after being sent to the stand – refused to criticise the 26-year-old.
“I think it’s just Lee,” he said. “We know how he is.”
The suspension means that Cattermole will have more than a month without playing.
Sunderland have no game this weekend, and then he sits out the fixtures against Villa and West Ham before the Premier League pauses for an international break at the end of the month.
But when the campaign resumes, Sunderland and arch-rivals Newcastle United immediately go head-to-head at the Stadium of Light on April 5.
Cattermole will be available for that game, and Poyet took the positives from the situation.
He added: “We know as well that he’s going to be ready for the Newcastle game, which I’m sure people will be happy about!”
Cattermole had been one booking away from a suspension since the end of December, but a series of injuries meant he did not play for the first seven weeks of 2015.
His latest yellow card means he has hit double figures for bookings four times in his career, a feat only equalled in the Premier League era by Robbie Savage.
Cattermole was one of six Sunderland players to be cautioned in Tuesday’s game, and that will trigger an automatic £25,000 FA fine. Boss Poyet was also involved in a touchline spat with his opposite number Steve Bruce, and must wait to discover whether the FA will hit him with an improper conduct charge.