Lee Cattermole fully expects to play in Wednesday’s Sunderland v Stoke City game – for the home side.
The Potters have shown an interest in the midfielder and, while there was no gushing declaration of loyalty from the 25-year-old after he captained his side to a 1-0 FA Cup fourth round win over Kidderminster Harriers, he says he is happy to stay on Wearside for as long as the club want him.
Ater setting up a fifth-round tie at home to Southampton, Cattermole said: “I will be a Sunderland player on Wednesday.
“I’ve heard no different and the manager has come out and said he has heard no different. I will be back in training on Monday.
“I am contracted to Sunderland. They make the decisions, not me.
“I’m contracted here for the rest of the season and another two years. It’s out of my hands.
“Until I know any different, I will keep working. I have a cup final to play in – if I’m here – and that would be brilliant.”
Stoke manager Mark Hughes admitted a deal for Cattermole was unlikely once Sunderland reached the League Cup final on Wednesday.
Cattermole was the only player to start the semi-final second leg at Manchester United and Saturday’s home win over non-league Kidderminster, although he was substituted in both.
The Teessiders’ future at the club was in severe doubt last summer, something he was reminded of when Paolo Di Canio resurfaced at the weekend to criticise him in the media.
Di Canio, who stripped Cattermole of the captaincy and his squad number, yesterday he called him and Phil Bardsley “the most unprofessional players I’ve ever worked with.”
Both were welcomed back into the fold after Di Canio was sacked and replaced by Gustavo Poyet.
He added: “He has been absolutely brilliant.
“The time we spent after the Hull game (Cattermole’s third appearance for Poyet which ended in a first-half red card) he completely changed my game.
“It was quite hard at first to change when we were struggling.
“I was becoming frustrated and I was sent off. I have stuck with it, kept going and gradually improved.”
Sunderland knocked Southampton out of the League Cup and continued their amazing run of being drawn at home in every possible cup game this term.
Poyet originally planned to rest Cattermole on Saturday “playing John O’Shea and playing differently at the back”, until an Andrea Dossena injury forced a rethink.
“He sent me a bit of a curve ball really,” said Cattermole.
“He put the team up in training. I didn’t see it coming. I enjoyed it again. Don’t get me wrong, I was tired. He wanted me to play so it is my job to do it. I will do it.
“You have to get through these rounds and do it right.
“It was difficult for the lads who came in. You are talking about lads who have not played for four or five months. I know what it is like to do that.
“It is so difficult when you are playing with lads who don’t know each other’s games.
“If you look at our results of late, a lot of that is down to having a stable team.”
The “rotten” Cattermole and Bardsley were not the only players to feel the wrath of Di Canio, sacked in September.
The Italian also accused O’Shea of criticising his team-mates and predecessor Martin O’Neill – now his international manager – in Di Canio’s office and repeated his claim Jermain Defoe and Tom Huddlestone wanted to join, but recently-sacked director of football Roberto De Fanti was unable to close out deals.
Meanwhile, reports in Spain suggest Real Betis are hoping to sign Alfred N’Diaye, halfway through a season-long loan at Eskisehirspor, while Sunderland have been linked with Chilean playmaker David Pizaro.