Lee Cattermole almost left Sunderland over the summer - but Di Canio offers an olive branch (From The Advertiser Series)
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Lee Cattermole almost left Sunderland over the summer - but Di Canio offers an olive branch
PAOLO DI CANIO has admitted that Lee Cattermole almost left Sunderland in the summer, but has promised to work with the midfielder if he remains on Wearside at the end of the transfer window.
Cattermole, who has been injured for much of Di Canio's tenure at Sunderland, suffered another injury during an Under-21s game last week, and is unavailable for selection for the next few weeks.
Although Phil Bardsley has been completely marginalised at Sunderland and, after being suspended by the club this week for mocking their 1-0 defeat to Fulham on Saturday, Cattermole's situation was different in that Di Canio awarded him a squad number and could yet involve him in a first-team situation in the future.
But Di Canio conceded that his Sunderland career looked dead in the water at one point in the close season.
“He's working,” said the Sunderland manager ahead of his side's trip to Southampton today. “He had a problem eight days ago, in the under-21s, and now he's in recovery.
“Obviously, we're going to see what's going on. At the end of the window, the picture is going to be clearer for everybody. Then we are going to work on him.
“At the beginning he wasn't fit. He wasn't here, then when we came back he also had a problem. There was a chance he had to move somewhere, it didn't happen for different reasons, we can't say why, it is between the club and player.
“He didn't train with us, but now we are waiting to see what is going on. If at the end of the window he's gone, he's gone. If he stays, we are going to work on him.”
The suggestion that Cattermole still has a part to play in Di Canio's team at Sunderland will be a big boost to the Teesside-born schemer, who had been told in the summer he was free to leave the Stadium of Light after making 74 league appearance for the Black Cats since signing in 2009 under Steve Bruce.
The writing seemed on the wall for the former Middlesbrough midfielder when he lost his regular squad number of six, which was instead handed to new signing Cabral. Di Canio insists, however, his squad number change had nothing to do with his status at Sunderland.
“The squad numbers are decided by the players,” said Di Canio. “They have a meeting to decide, have six, have ten, have nine, I don't go in. It belongs to them.
“As always I've said I don't invade their area which is the dressing room. It is their kingdom. I was a footballer, I know what it means. I can have a joke from the corridor but not go inside because this is their private way. It's exactly the same with the numbers.
“Sometimes they have a 50-50 with a number and they put money for charity, this is the way, but this is not my decision.”
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