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Cattermole branded senseless by boss
MARTIN O’NEILL last night condemned Lee Cattermole ’s “senseless” sending off in his side’s Capital One Cup win at MK Dons and instructed the Sunderland skipper to address his lack of discipline.
Cattermole was sent off for a two-footed lunge at Adam Chicksen in the 31st minute at Stadium MK, and while goals from Craig Gardner and James McClean earned the Black Cats a place in the League Cup fourth round, the midfielder’s latest aberration dominated post-match discussions.
The red card was the fifth of Cattermole’s Sunderland career, and the Stockton-born midfielder will miss next month’s Wear-Tyne derby with Newcastle, as well as games against Wigan and Manchester City, if he receives a three-match ban.
O’Neill was not about to make any snap decisions on the captaincy last night, although he admitted he would assess the situation once the dust had settled.
But he was unwilling to defend his skipper’s conduct and admitted referee Stuart Atwell had no alternative to a straight red card.
“It was senseless I thought, really needless,” said O’Neill.
“He didn’t give the referee much option in fairness. It’s the seventh time of his career – that’s bad enough, but it might go up some more by the time he’s 30.
“I think he’s got to review the situation – it’s poor because he’s the captain of the side. We talked about discipline beforehand, discipline as a team otherwise you fall down, and discipline is something he will have to consider or reconsider, or re-reconsider.
“It wasn’t good and having seen it briefly, I don’t think the referee had any choice. He had one quick look at it, and if you’re coming in lunging with your feet up, you’re going to get sent off.”
Cattermole’s disciplinary record has been an issue since he joined Sunderland, and O’Neill admits the 24-year-old has to start taking more responsibility for his actions.
“We had a bit of a joke about his discipline a couple of weeks ago, but the truth is you’ve got to help yourself somewhere along the way,” he said.
“I don’t think he’s at the crossroads of his career or anything like that, but he needs to instil some discipline into his game. It’s as simple as that.”
The dismissal left Sunderland in a difficult position against League One opponents who had scored four goals at the weekend, but they responded with an accomplished display that was capped by two fine strikes from Gardner and McClean.
“I’m really pleased to have won the game,” said O’Neill.
“Gardner’s goal was a big moment in the game for us because it gave us something to hold on to. Then McClean’s goal was really excellent.
“We’re in the hat and considering the situation we found ourselves in, I’m pleased with the way we played.”
O’Neill named a makeshift back four, with David Meyler making his first start of the season at centre-half, and the Irishman produced an excellent display alongside the equally impressive Matt Kilgallon.
“It’s not a position you’ve seen him in, and it’s not a position I’ve seen him in very often either,” said O’Neill.
“But I thought he did great for us. I told him beforehand that he was playing there – at least two minutes before the team went in – and he adapted very well. He and Kilgallon did really well for us.”