Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting NORTHERN ECHO to 80360 or email us
Cattermole ready for instant recall
MARTIN O'Neill will offer an olive branch to Lee Cattermole by handing the Sunderland skipper an immediate recall for Saturday's trip to Stoke.
Cattermole has completed a three-match suspension for his sending off at MK Dons and is poised to return to the starting line-up at the Britannia Stadium.
O'Neill branded the midfielder “reckless” and “senseless” in the wake of last month's game at Stadium MK and warned him he had to improve a disciplinary record that has already seen him receive five red cards for the Black Cats.
However, he will stop short of dropping him from the starting XI and is expected to retain Cattermole as his captain despite John O'Shea wearing the armband in the last three matches.
Cattermole's midfield bite has been missed in recent weeks – most notably when Sunderland crashed to a 3-0 defeat at Manchester City – and it is hoped his return will also have the added benefit of freeing up some of Sunderland's more creative players.
Seb Larsson has covered for the 24-year-old's absence, but the Swede is much more at home on the flank and O'Neill is understood to be considering dropping the out-of-sorts James McClean in order to accommodate Larsson's return to the right-hand side and Adam Johnson's switch to the left.
The Sunderland boss is also ready to recall Phil Bardsley at right-back in order to promote Craig Gardner back into midfield and give his side some of the midfield drive they were so conspicuously lacking in last weekend's 1-1 draw at Newcastle.
There is also an argument for switching formation to 4-4-2 and playing either Louis Saha or Fraizer Campbell alongside Steven Fletcher instead of persevering with Stephane Sessegnon in the hole.
However, O'Neill remains a staunch admirer of the Benin international and has been reluctant to play with an orthodox 4-4-2 formation in the past.
Sunderland added to their development squad yesterday by recruiting former Darlington centre-half Scott Harrison.
The 19-year-old, who had been on trial at the Academy of Light, has been handed a contract until the end of the season and will link up with Kevin Ball's under-21 squad.
Harrison made ten Blue Square Bet Premier appearances for the Quakers under Craig Liddle, who is now an academy coach at Sunderland.
“Scott was recommended to us and we gave him an opportunity to come in,” said Ball. “We see in him a lad giving all the intentions of wanting to work at his game, and we feel he warrants a contract until the end of the season, which we were delighted to offer him."