TITUS Bramble says Sunderland have missed Lee Cattermole badly – after the skipper came under attack from a former Black Cats star.
Cattermole is sidelined with a knee problem but has been working on his fitness levels during a week-long break in Dubai, and hopes to make a return soon.
And that will please his former Wigan team-mate Bramble, who believes Sunderland’s league position would have been better this season had the captain played more than just 10 of the club’s 26 league games so far.
He said: “Lee’s someone that we’ve really missed.
“I look back at the recent Reading game where we lost for example when we should have won, and he would have been ideal for a match like that in terms of imposing himself on the game and giving us a platform.
“He’s the captain and he can be a very influential player when he gets a run in the side.
“I’ve seen it at Wigan and I’ve seen it at Sunderland, and it’s just one of those facts of football that if you take the captain out of any side it doesn’t help you.
“He’s been a big miss over the last few months because he’s a leader with this great will to win.
“And when he gets himself in the groove and is really on his game he takes the whole team and the fans with him and gets everyone going.
“It’s just a shame that this season he’s had injuries which haven’t really allowed him to contribute in the way he has done.
“But hopefully he’ll be back soon to help us with the run in because if he can get back and get a run of games in towards the end of the season it is going to be a big, big help to us.”
Bramble’s backing comes after Cattermole came under fire from former Sunderland midfielder Don Hutchison yesterday.
Hutchison, who played for Sunderland under Peter Reid and now works as a TV pundit, said: “I honestly don’t see a player in Lee.
“The game has moved on now to have someone that just runs around picking up yellow and red cards all the time.
“I think most of the time he tries too hard.
“He wants to become an enforcer, if you like but modern-day footballers can easily play around that sort of player. He has to change.”