LEE CATTERMOLE will be urged to play his natural game in tonight’s basement battle at Hull City, despite the Teessider walking a disciplinary tightrope.
Since returning from two months on the sidelines with injury, Sunderland midfield lynchpin Cattermole has managed to avoid a 10th yellow card of the season in both the draw against West Brom and last weekend’s defeat to Manchester United.
I cannot see a game between Sunderland and Hull without any yellow cards or strong tackles.
If Cattermole’s tally of bookings goes into double figures before the April 12 amnesty point – which is five games away – then the 26-year-old will face a two-match ban.
Gus Poyet is glad to have seen Cattermole come through his first two games back in the side without going into the referee’s notebook, so he can feature in a pivotal encounter against fellow strugglers Hull - one that the Sunderland boss expects to be physical.
But Poyet will make no attempt to curb the natural aggression of Cattermole – sent off at Hull last season – in a game which could prove pivotal to Sunderland’s hopes of creating some daylight with the bottom three.
Poyet said: “We didn’t talk about it (when he returned from injury) or ask him to play a different way.
“He needs to play the game at his best and that means he needs to be Lee Cattermole.
“As everybody knows, he has had plenty of yellow cards but he has been good on the other side – the red cards.
“I think these games are special and you need to play at a certain level of aggression – but controlled aggression.
“I cannot see a game between Sunderland and Hull without any yellow cards or strong tackles.
“That would be very strange. I would think ‘hmm, something is wrong here’.
“Let’s hope it’s not Lee, but if it is him then the rest of the squad needs to be there because when you are in the situation where we are, and you need to compete, you cannot always guarantee making every tackle perfectly, every time.”
While Cattermole has already served one suspension this season, he has gone 16 months without being shown a red card – the last coming in November 2013, during Sunderland’s 1-0 defeat at Hull.