LEE Cattermole is striving to give Sunderland’s depleted midfield a boost by returning for tomorrow’s clash with Bolton.
But Martin O’Neill is prepared to hand Sunderland’s fringe players an opportunity, if the skipper fails to shake off his knee problem in time to face the third bottom Trotters.
O’Neill will be forced into making two changes to his midfield tomorrow, with Craig Gardner suspended and Seb Larsson ruled out for the rest of the season after undergoing a hernia operation.
Cattermole has missed Sunderland’s last two games after succumbing to the knee ligament damage which had been troubling him for several weeks, but has upped his training over the last week.
But with David Vaughan and David Meyler vying to take Gardner’s spot in central midfield and Ahmed Elmohamady and Fraizer Campbell in contention to replace Larsson on the right, Black Cats boss O’Neill may adopt a cautious approach with Cattermole in favour of giving others an opportunity.
O’Neill said: “Lee Cattermole is trying to make a concerted effort for the game.
“I’ll have to see and it might not be the case that he plays, which would be a shame because we really are struggling for a few bodies.
“But that might give me the opportunity to give a few others a chance, even though you still want to try to win the game.
“You want to be as competitive as possible and we want to try to finish as high as possible.
“At the same time, it might be an opportunity to have a look at someone. I’ll take that into consideration.”