LEE CATTERMOLE admits the stop-start nature to the opening months of the Premier League campaign is tough for Sunderland’s non-internationals.
Sunderland face a two-week international break after tomorrow’s trip to Swansea and will then play just four top flight games before another fortnight’s hiatus.
While 10 of Sunderland’s first-teamers have received a call-up for their countries, the likes of Cattermole are left training with a skeleton squad at the Academy of Light.
And with tomorrow’s game only Sunderland’s second league encounter of the season – after last weekend’s clash with Reading was called off – the Black Cats skipper says the start of the campaign is hardly conducive towards building match fitness.
Cattermole said: “If you’re an international player, it might be alright because you keep playing football.
“For those of who are not, we’ve got a few days off and you just have to try to stay focused.
“We’ve played two games, then a two-week gap and then another couple of games before another gap.
“So it is hard, but thankfully there’s a long spell from October through to the March internationals.
“There was a massive buzz around the place before Reading and it was a shame in the end. But we’ve got to move on from that and we’ll have to play the game again.”
At least Tuesday’s Capital One Cup encounter provided a chance for some much needed competitive minutes for Sunderland’s players, particularly £12million arrival Steven Fletcher who had featured just once for Wolves during pre-season.
“He’d only played one game during pre-season so Tuesday was a great game for him to come into,” said Cattermole.
“It’s in the bank now and if we can get another 60 or 70 out of him tomorrow, that’ll be great.
“It does take time to build up your fitness though.”