Cattermole’s Sunderland future in the balance

Lee Cattermole.
Lee Cattermole.

LEE CATTERMOLE will be fully fit by the time Sunderland return from their pre-season stint in Hong Kong next week.

But Paolo Di Canio has refused to confirm whether Cattermole has a future at the club after completing the rehabilitation from his long-term knee injury.

Cattermole’s prospects at the Stadium of Light have looked bleak all summer, with Sunderland ready to listen to offers for the midfielder, despite the former Middlesbrough man penning a new three-year contract with the Black Cats last October.

The 24-year-old was not included in Sunderland’s squad for this week’s Barclays Asia Trophy, here in Hong Kong, although that was not necessarily a surprise after the captain has been recuperating from the knee injury which has plagued him since November.

Cattermole has been training with Sunderland’s Under-21 squad at the Academy of Light this week to build up his fitness and he should be available to join the first-team after his team-mates return from the Far East.

But whether Cattermole is granted an opportunity under Di Canio remains a moot point, with the Sunderland head coach remaining coy on his prospects.

Di Canio told the Echo: “He couldn’t come (to Hong Kong) because he was not fully fit – in the opinion of both myself and the fitness coach.

“He is training with the reserves and then when we get back to Sunderland, he will be ready.”

But when asked whether Cattermole had a future at the club, Di Canio replied: “We will see. It depends.”

Despite the imminent sale of fellow midfield enforcer Alfred N’Diaye to Turkish club Eskiehirspor, Cattermole will be offloaded if Sunderland receive an acceptable offer for a player, who has captained the club under both Steve Bruce and Martin O’Neill.

Cattermole’s wages remain the biggest barrier towards his sale, while Bruce is not thought to be keen on taking him to Hull City, despite reports to the contrary.

Meanwhile, the long-term prospects for Cattermole’s fellow injury victim, Steven Fletcher, are far more positive, as last season’s top scorer continues his recovery from ankle ligament damage.

Di Canio says it is still too early to gauge when Fletcher will be ready to resume full training, but is encouraged by the Scottish international’s progress.

“He is improving, he has improved a lot,” added Di Canio.

“We can’t say how much longer it will take.

“But there is a big improvement and we know all about the problem.

“We are very happy with his progress and we are waiting for him.”