Cattermole remains club captain but has yet to play for Di Canio, and the Italian has revealed that he nearly left the club last month – only for the deal to break down in the late stages.
Sunderland are hoping to broker a loan deal for Swansea’s midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung in the next few days - and have made contact with the Swans with a view to a switch that would solve the Black Cats’ creativity gap and give the player regular first-team football.
That would appear to suggest that Cattermole’s eventful four years at the Stadium of Light - where he has shown occasional glimpses of his combative best but been undermined by injuries – are coming to a conclusion.
The Journal understands that his high wages will make it difficult for any club to agree a permanent deal for the midfielder, who could be allowed to leave on loan by Sunderland. But Fulham’s initial interest seems to have cooled, while Steve Bruce and Hull City will not be making a move.
Di Canio did not rule out his departure between now and September 2 but also left the door ajar for the midfielder to return to the fray if he is still a Sunderland player after the window closes.
The club have signed three
central midfielders this summer and are in the market for a ‘playmaker’ with a background in English football. That would seem to make it difficult for Cattermole to return, but Di Canio made it very clear that he has not cast the former Middlesbrough man into the wilderness with no prospect of a return.
“Lee is working. 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 (fitness-wise),” Di Canio said.
“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 Journal revealed some time ago that the midfielder had lost his squad number, which had been handed to new boy Cabral, while Cattermole took the number 33. It appeared to be another indication that his future was uncertain but Di Canio claims the players themselves decide who takes what numbers.
“The squad numbers are decided by the players,” he said. “They have a meeting to decide. I don’t go in. It belongs to them. 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 area. It’s 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.”