The former Black Cats skipper will sit out the next three games after a late, lunging tackle on Ahmed Elmohamady at the KC Stadium, which brought him the seventh red card of his career.
Poyet admits it is not good enough but intends to use the experience accrued while he was playing alongside another fiery English midfielder, Dennis Wise, to try and teach Cattermole to mend his ways.
Saturday’s red card is a depressing development after the player had appeared to turn over a new leaf with a run of seven games this season without even being booked. He now has the second highest number of red cards in Premier League history and it feels like he is a marked man with referees again.
Poyet offered Cattermole his full support – as Steve Bruce and Martin O’Neill had also done after similar disciplinary indiscretions – but he admitted that time is running out for the player to mature and prove that he is more than just a hatchet job merchant.
Asked whether he could hope to change a player who has averaged a red card every 27 games, Poyet suggested he could. He used the example of Wise to illustrate his point.
“I’ve no answer for that! I hope I can,” he said.
“We’re all different and I’m sure that different managers will try different things. I played with Dennis Wise!
“He’s going to kill me for saying this but I was injured one season for three months and I played more games than Wisey because he was always suspended.”
Having made Cattermole the engine of his team in his first three games – and been rewarded with man-of-the-match displays against Swansea and Newcastle – he now has to re-shape both his midfield, and the shape of his team, to accommodate the player’s suspension.
Poyet is in a forgiving mood and has suggested that rehabilitating Cattermole will be a major test of whether he can cut it as a Premier League boss. He has also urged the midfielder to grow up now – before it is too late to save his reputation.
“Lee, we need him, yes, and if I could see the red card coming then we’d leave him out and give him the week off but it’s difficult to see it coming of course,” he said.
“He’s 24, let’s hope he’s more mature next month and we don’t need to wait until he’s 29 or 30. He knows more than anyone that I will do my job and the future will tell if I’ve done a good enough job. I can’t give up on him. If I give up, he shouldn’t be here.”